ust days after the global uproar following the killing of young Marius the giraffe in Copenhagen Zoo, Stuttgart Zoo in Germany is under the spotlight following the death of a 25 year-old polar bear named Anton. The bear died after eating what was thought to be a coat or bag dropped into his enclosure by visitors. This follows the death of an elephant seal and a hippo in similar circumstances in previous years.
Said Liz Tyson, Director of CAPS:
“It is largely accepted that wide-ranging animals such as polar bears are inherently unsuited to captivity full stop. That Anton spent 25 years of his life in captivity is shameful enough but that he died in such circumstances adds insult to injury. Anton could have lived another fifteen years but instead endured an unnecessary and likely painful death. A heartbreaking example of a life wasted from start to finish”.
Last year it was reported that penguins at Edinburgh Zoo had been forced to undergo lifesaving surgery on 22 separate occasions to remove rubbish and items thrown into their enclosures by visitors. In addition, a hippo died at Dublin zoo in 2002 after eating a tennis ball thrown into her enclosure. A CAPS investigation in autumn 2012 showed drunk festival-goers at Port Lympne safari park throwing food and other objects into the primate enclosures and carp ponds.
Ms Tyson said that she hoped that some good could come from the recent interest in zoos, adding:
“Whilst the death of any animal in the circumstances we have seen this week is legitimate cause for sadness and anger, I hope that the debate which has been triggered by these events might help people to learn more about the reality of zoos more generally. Those that have been shocked and upset by what they have learned this week can do one very simple thing to ensure that they are not complicit in the suffering of captive animals; make the commitment to never visit a zoo”.