Zoo bunny chow: Anger over decision to donate 2 000 bunnies to zoo

2017-09-20 11:32
2 000 bunnies from Bunny Park in Benoni are being donated to feed carnivores at the Johannesburg Zoo. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

2 000 bunnies from Bunny Park in Benoni are being donated to feed carnivores at the Johannesburg Zoo. (Supplied, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - A decision to donate 2 000 rabbits from the Benoni Bunny Park to the Johannesburg Zoo to feed its carnivores, has caused a furore.

Ban Animal Trading South Africa (Batsa), an animal rights organisation, says the Ekurhuleni metro is defying a court order in the process, Netwerk24 reported.

Batsa's Smaragda Louw says the High Court in Johannesburg ruled in June that the municipality has to pay for food and for vets to sterilise the rabbits.

"That a state institution can ignore this, shows it has no respect for the court. This also shows that they have no respect for the lives of animals which they have mismanaged," said Louw.

However, Ekurhuleni says it had the well-being of the rabbits in mind when it decided to donate them to the zoo.

"The rabbits roamed the park and there has been a lot of interbreeding. For that reason we decided that, from a zoological point of view, it would be best not to keep them anymore," said Themba Gadebe, a spokesperson for the metro.   

Gadebe confirmed that 50 rabbits would be donated weekly. The first were delivered last week.

"The rabbits are alive when we donate them to the zoo. What happens to them after that, you will have to ask the zoo.

"I can confirm that the Tshwane Zoo has also approached us," said Gadebe.

"The municipality and the [Johannesburg] Zoo are in contact with animal rights organisations to ensure the welfare of the rabbits when they are caught, loaded and transported. We want to limit the stress as far as possible," he said.

Jenny Moodley, a spokesperson for the zoo, said she hadn’t seen the court order, but confirmed that the rabbits were euthanised on the premises.  

"The zoo's chief vet is present when the rabbits are put down, to ensure that they don't suffer," she said.

The donation forms part of upgrades of about R7m at Bunny Park. 

Gadebe confirmed that 50 sterilised rabbits would be kept for when the spruced up park is opened next year. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  animals

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