The Bloemfontein Zoo has become a hot topic in recent days after a petition to close it down was launched last week. The petition presently has over 16,000 signatures from residents who would like the zoo to be closed forever, and to have the animals moved to another facility.
However, some residents expressed concern over the call to shut down the well-known local attraction.
According to the online petition, there are concerns over the welfare of the animals exhibited at the zoo.
“We as the Bloemfontein community call for the Municipal Manager to take action in the closing of the Bloemfontein zoo due to lack of maintenance, management and care of the animals. The animals should be transferred to another zoo,” it stated.
Bloemfontein Courant paid a visit to the Bloemfontein Zoo on Wednesday to observe conditions of the zoo itself, as well as the wellbeing of the animals. Although the visit was unannounced, we found the animals during their feeding time. Many of them were in the shade to keep cool during the intense heat. However, there was litter on some parts of the grounds and overgrown, empty enclosures.
Mangaung Metro Municipality spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, stated that a new services provider for cleaning the zoo would be appointed in the future. There are also plans to revamp old structures at the zoo.
“The processes to contract a service provider for the cleaning of the gardens, cutting grass, etc, is at an advanced stage. Plans are also currently underway to maintain and repair some of the old structures and facilities within the zoo. Ablution facilities are a priority and will be addressed,” he said.
“There are service providers who have been appointed to provide food for the animals, so the animals are being cared for and have enough food and water. Visitors might not see most of the water sources in the enclosures, because such is best placed for the animals inside the sleeping quarters,” added Khedama.
Resident Etienne Botha, who visited the zoo last week as a result of the petition, expressed that fellow Bloemfontein citizens should see the conditions of the animals for themselves before calling for a shutdown.
“I do agree with the petition that some of the cages are overgrown and that the park is not as clean as it could be, but for the most part, the dirty cages are empty and the animals all look good,” he explained.
“Before we start closing the zoo, might I ask that everyone who signed the petition go and have a look for themselves as to what the conditions are that might cause the zoo to receive the funds they need. You might have a fantastic day out as well,” he added.
Khedama explained that many of the animals keep out of sight in order to avoid the hot weather, but that there are plans to fill the empty enclosures.
“Due to the heat waves, animals do not willingly come out of the sleeping quarters, hence visitors deemed that there are no animals. The City is looking into other best practices to ensure cooler environments for the animals,” he said.
“There are also plans to obtain more animals, which will fill some of the empty enclosures. This, however, can only be done when the temperatures are lower,” Khedama said.