Friday, January 15, 2010

What the Fate of Haiti's Zoo?

Earthquake Damage

I know I am not alone amongst the zoo community in wondering how the zoo is coping in Haiti. At times such as these the animals will so often come second, and there are those who may say rightly so. The zoo staff, the employees will have undoubtedly been affected, perhaps losing property or family members or even their own lives. Then there is the damage to enclosures and cages often making it necessary to kill some animals to prevent escape. If you cannot get food or water for the human population then the animals, as hard as it may be, will come last.
I recollect my visit, shortly after the earthquake, to the Gebira Loka Zoo outside of Yogyakarta in Indonesia. I was amazed by the damage done....and to the city as well.
We don't have to think too far back to havoc wreaked by the earthquake in China and the Panda rescue from the Woolong Nature Reserve.
There is a big difference here. Haiti is a poverty stricken country. They do not have the same kind of back up available. Happily the zoo which is situated in Fermathe is quite small and does not have any large animals. All zoos should have a contingency plan for such emergencies.

Fate of Haiti's Zoo and Animals Remains Uncertain

The fate of Haiti's zoo, endangered species and other animals in the Caribbean country remains uncertain at present, with U.S. animal and veterinary organizations attempting to gather information while also standing by to allow rescuers to focus on human victims of the devastating 7.0 earthquake and its aftershocks.

The American Veterinary Medical Association yesterday issued a release that mentions, "As always with disasters like this, the humanitarian rescue efforts will be the focus in Haiti for the first week or so. However, veterinarians are on standby to assist with the tragedy."

It adds, "Once the immediate human needs have been met, the AVMA is ready to address the animal issues in any way we can."

Bloggers Christine Frietchen and Linda Mohr write: "So far, animal relief organizations like the Humane Society and the ASPCA are not making large appeals for Haiti's animal population. As with Hurricane Katrina, it may be a few days before animals' agencies can start rescue operations and get personnel and supplies into the area. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is on alert, noting that humanitarian efforts need to be well underway before animal rescue efforts can begin in earnest."

Fermathe, Haiti, is home to a zoo that one past visitor reported housed monkeys, snakes, alligators and exotic birds, such as peacocks. The nearby hospital in Fermathe is still standing, but doctors, nurses and other staff there are said to be exhausted and struggling to care for the many patients.

Haiti is home to several endangered animals, according

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