We're off for Kisumu. How to transport Duni?


10. 09. 2022

I am sending this article to the editorial board from a three-hundred-kilometre-long journey to Schmiding Zoo in Upper Austria. We are going there to pick up Kisumu, who will become the silverback male in Prague Zoo’s new gorilla house. Our small convoy includes two air-conditioned vans. Kisumu will be travel in his transport box in one van while the other is there as a backup. We don't want to forget a thing.

Male Kisumu (pictured left) and female Duni. Photo: Petr Hamerník a Khalil Baalbaki, Prague Zoo Male Kisumu (pictured left) and female Duni. Photo: Petr Hamerník a Khalil Baalbaki, Prague Zoo

I hope that by the time this text is published, Kisumu and I will already be back in Prague. Then we can look forward to transporting Moja's daughter Duni – and that has already caused us plenty of worries.

Since her birth, Duni has lived in the Spanish city of Cabárceno. It is seven times farther to Prague from there than from Austria: 1,580 kilometres as the crow flies. Being transported over such a distance could be very stressful for Duni. We are therefore trying to do as much as we can to transport her as quickly as possible and, if we can, in the constant presence of her keeper. However, this is more complicated to organize than it may seem at first sight.

The roughly two-thousand-kilometre overland route would take us about thirty hours by car, including all the necessary stops. Just as it was for Kisumu on the journey from Schmiding, Duni’s transport box would have to be placed in an air-conditioned van. However, the keeper could not be there with her, and they could only make contact during the stops. I would not wish such an ordeal for “our” Duni.

Unfortunately, not even commercial air transportation from Cabárceno is an option. It too would take about thirty hours, Duni would have to be reloaded at airports and the keeper would not be able to be close to her at all.

These days, renting an entire plane, as we did years ago when we transported Duni’s mother, Moja, to Cabárceno, has also proven unfeasible. The lowest price offered was CZK 630,000 excluding VAT.

However, a solution – the ideal solution! – was found in the end. Thanks to the openness of the Czech Air Force and the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, it will be possible to take advantage of the fact that one of the CASA aeroplanes will fly from the NATO exercise in Spain. And whilst doing so, it will also stop for Duni!

Keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes the way we hope it will.