German Zoo Says It May Have to Feed Animals to Others Due to Coronavirus Crisis

A zoo in Germany may have to feed some animals to others to cope with the financial impact of the novel coronavirus crisis, its director said.

Neumünster Zoo in northern Germany belongs to an association and is not entitled to financial relief from the county's state emergency fund for small businesses, the BBC reported. The zoo's director Verena Kaspari told German newspaper Die Welt that the zoo—which is home to more than 700 animals including polar bears, seals, and alpacas—will lose out on an estimated $190,000 (€175,000) in income this spring.

Kaspari said as a last resort, the zoo will have to kill some animals in order for others to survive, but she said even that wouldn't solve the zoo's financial issues. Although "unpleasant," Kaspari said officials at the zoo have listed the animals which would have to be slaughtered first in that worst case scenario.

"If it comes to it, I'll have to euthanize animals, rather than let them starve," she told the newspaper. "At the worst, we would have to feed some of the animals to others."

Neumünster Zoo is among many zoos in Germany seeking monetary donations to help it stay afloat during the crisis. On its Facebook page, it is also asking supporters to sponsor animals and purchase annual passes that will be valid when the zoo reopens. The zoo has been contacted for additional comment.

As well as appeals for donations, zoos in Germany are asking the German government for more than $120 million (€100 million) in aid to help them cope financially while they are closed during the pandemic.

Berlin Zoo
Ticket counters at Berlin's Zoologischer Garten zoo are closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Verband der Zoologischen Gärten (VdZ) Germany's national zoo association, says German zoos are losing about $500,000 a week in income. But unlike other businesses, they can't shut down during lockdown to lower costs as animals need to be fed daily and some need to be kept in temperature-controlled enclosures.

Jörg Junhold, the head of VdZ, said in a letter addressed to politicians: "Unlike other facilities, we cannot simply shut down our business—our animals still need to be fed and taken care of. At the moment, however, we are working without income with consistently high expenses."

Junhold added that more than 180,000 animals are kept in the 56 zoos that are part of VdZ—and many are endangered species or part of international conservation breeding programs.

"A possible loss of this valuable animal population would be a bitter setback for our struggle to preserve biodiversity and would therefore amount to a catastrophe," he said.

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