German zoo discusses feeding animals to each other as last resort

Neumünster Zoo

As the coronavirus pandemic forces zoos to close, the Neumünster Zoo in Germany has expressed concerns about how it will be able to run with no revenue.

Zoos should be filled with visitors over a sunny Easter period. Instead, due to social distancing measures there are no visitors and zoos still have high ongoing costs to look after their animals.

According to the BBC, Neumünster Zoo’s Director Verena Kaspari has spoken to Die Welt about the hardships facing the zoo. It is not covered by the German state’s emergency fund for small businesses because of the association it belongs to. Kaspari estimates that the zoo will lose around €175,000 this spring.

A lack of cash might force extreme decisions

With this loss of revenue, Kaspari says the zoo might have to make some tough choices. She said would rather euthanise animals than let them starve. “At the worst, we would have to feed some of the animals to others.” This would be a last resort and would be “unpleasant”, Kaspari said. However, the zoo has “listed the animals we’ll have to slaughter first.”

Although this might seem like an extreme response, zoos are unable to close their doors completely  like other visitor attractions. Animals still have to be fed and looked after, some enclosures have to be heated, and aquarium tanks have to be maintained.

Zoos turn to local communities for help

In our interview with WAZA CEO Martin Zordan, he explains that zoos and aquariums might stuggle to provide the necessary level of care without ticket sales. He says that they are defined as recreational activities in many countries, and so government funding “isn’t forthcoming”. Zordan urges zoos and aquariums to “turn towards your surrounding communities” to let them know help is needed.

Denver Zoo, for example, has launched a Zoo to You: Virtual Safari online resource to connect with visitors whilst they are closed and is also asking for emergency donations to help care for the animals.

Neumünster Zoo also has a donations page.

Meanwhile, Kolmården Zoo in Sweden is planning on partially reopening for weekends in April.

Image: Neumünster Zoo