Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Frozen fauna


In keeping with my recent theme, let me relate the sad news that dozens of animals froze to death at the Chihuahua Zoo in Aldama, Mexico, earlier this month. In what is a shameful - though partly accidental - turn of events, 65 animals (10% of the zoo inhabitants) were allowed to die in temperatures as cold as they have been in 60 years - 5° Fahrenheit (-15° Celsius). The sudden change in the weather was unexpected. It knocked out electricity to the zoo, causing the heaters and heating lamps to stop working. The night watchmen turned on the gas lines, but they had frozen. The international media report the following losses overnight on 2/5/11:
  • 14 parrots and parakeets
  • 13 snakes
  • 10 peacocks
  • 20 hens
  • 5 iguanas
  • 2 crocodiles
  • 1 capuchin monkey
The zoo saved 3 hypothermic animals (2 monkeys and a stallion), and brought water in for the animals to drink the next day. "It's impossible to be prepared for something so unpredictable," said the zoo's owner Alberto Hernandez, but many are calling for the zoo's closure. Deplorable stewardship by the zoo was cited by a visitor 2 years ago, but this recent event may be the catalyst the petition needs.
Other notable tragedies to zoo animals:
12/13/04 A camel, a tiger, a wolf and a bobcat abandoned and found frozen and starved in Russia
10/4/08 More than a dozen reptiles bludgeoned to death and fed to the 11' crocodile by a 7-year-old boy in Australia
2/18/09 Hundreds of animals bombed and booby-trapped in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza
11/13/10 A total of 26 animals including Shetland ponies, goats, sheep and a llama killed in a fire in Germany
1/10/11 Culling of multiple animals by untrained keepers in England (caution when viewing photos)
In contrast - and to end this post on a high note, zoos all over the world take pains to protect their wards from exteme temperatures, for example a Malaysian bear being warmed by a heater in China, chimpanzees provided with blankets and elephants huddling up to bonfires in India, and a lion surveying his kingdom in Boston, U.S., from a toasty 75° F heated rock.

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