Sitatungas donated to Johannesburg Zoo

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  05. 08. 2014

Because of unprofessional behaviour of representatives of Johannesburg Zoo, eight antelopes sitatunga were euthanasied in South African Republic. The director of Prague Zoo Miroslav Bobek informed about the unethical manners in open letter and explained all the consequences.

Sitatunga, photo: Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo Sitatunga, photo: Tomáš Adamec, Prague Zoo

To Whom it May Concern: 

Let me inform you about the matter – Sitatungas donated from Prague Zoo to Johannesburg Zoo a few days ago – which represents in my opinion a breach of good manners among zoo colleagues, and a violation of members of WAZA Code of Ethics. (That is why, we also immediately informed the WAZA about this affair.) 

Zoo Praha, a major breeder of Sitatunga antelopes, offered our reared sitatungas for other EAZA members through the EAZA Available/Wanted List. Subsequently, the Bioparco Roma asked us, if we would agree to send some sitatungas to Johannesburg zoo. We agreed, because the WAZA membership of Johannesburg zoo was for us a sufficient guarantee of quality. We did not request anything in return. It was just our selfless help to our colleagues in South Africa. 

The appointed export (4.4 sitatunga) to Johannesburg zoo was realized on 1 August 2014. After the landing of aircraft with antelopes at Johannesburg airport, we have coincidentally learned from the carrier (Lufthansa), that the final destination of the consignment was not Johannesburg zoo, but a private keeper - Mr. Clive Albutt, Cape Province, South Africa! As we has learned later, he was to deliver some animals to Johannesburg zoo in exchange for our sitatungas!

I find such manners of Johannesburg zoo as extremely unethical. Johannesburg Zoo has abused its reputation of WAZA member. It declared that it wants offered antelopes for themselves, while it has arranged their import for a private breeder, completely unknown to us, and without any our agreement and approval. 

Moreover, the whole affair had disastrous results! South African authorities ordered the slaughter of all antelopes (executed on 3 August 2014) for one missing veterinary examination. However, the Zoo Praha has arranged all veterinary tests and sent all the documents asked by the importer - Johannesburg Zoo. In addition, Johannesburg zoo remained inexplicable lax and inactive upon antelopes arrival, when the fate of antelopes was assessed. The Johannesburg Zoo has acted highly unprofessionally and unethically. Thus, the Johannesburg zoo is fully responsible for this tragedy.

Thank you for your consideration,

Miroslav Bobek
Director, Prague Zoo