Zoo animals in Athens at risk as crisis hits feed imports

2015-07-17 20:02


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Athens - Curious and noisy, a group of Madagascar lemurs surround Jean-Jacques Lesueur, founder of Attica Park in Athens, unaware that the special biscuits he is handing out to them are running low and they may soon not have enough to eat.

Three weeks after capital controls were imposed on Greece's moribund banking system, supplies of the special imported dietary supplements needed to feed 2 200 animals from 345 species at Athens' only zoo are under threat.

Like other foreign companies, suppliers of products ranging from frozen fish from the Netherlands to meal worms from Germany or special additives from France who used to be paid 60 days after delivery are now demanding payment in advance.

"Many of our animals require a special diet, which demands specific nutrition that can only be imported," Lesueur, a 71-year-old Frenchman who has lived in Athens for more than 45 years, told Reuters.

Two weeks ago on July 7, he received a call from his suppliers, telling him that the regular three-week delivery due in two days’ time would have to be paid in advance.

Lesueur tried to keep calm but realised that with the banks closed, he could not meet the payment.

"You can't do this, we're talking about animal lives here," he told the suppliers, who eventually relented and agreed to make an exception. But they warned that future orders would have to be paid in advance.

Walking through the zoo, he points to ant-eaters, which get through around a ton of meal worms a year or seals, pelicans, penguins or dolphins which rely on frozen herring from the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, he tries to find other solutions such using domestically produced horse feed additives for rhinos.

Already suffering as visitor numbers have dropped during the economic crisis, the privately owned zoo is also bracing for the shock of a steep rise in value added tax, which has jumped to 23% with immediate effect under the latest bailout deal.

But it is the plight of the animals which gives Lesueur the most urgent headaches.

"We want to pay them, we just don't have a way at the moment, the country is blocked, I can't get money out and our frozen supplies won't last more than two more weeks," he said.

"After that it will become very urgent to get supplies. It's a matter of life or death for the animals."

Read more on:    greece  |  economy

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.