Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo have been advised by Gerald Dick, Chairperson of World Association of Zoos (WAZA) that the Johannesburg Zoo has been expelled as a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA), stemming from the putting down of eight Sitatunga on 3 August 2014 at the OR Tambo International Airport by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).
JCPZ has on numerous occasions stated that the Johannesburg Zoo’s involvement was only to make available its accredited quarantine facilities to Clive Albutt a private game keeper in South Africa. In lieu of the fee, the Zoo would retain two of the eight, Sitatunga for conservation purposes.
The issue arose when the consignment of Sitatunga antelope arrived in the country on 1 August without the necessary clearance for the Schmallenberg Virus. The new outbreak of the virus on the European continent necessitated that antelope be barred from leaving the European continent.
WAZA maintains that the Johannesburg Zoo is to be held accountable and not the Zoo in Prague for ensuring that the necessary tests were carried out. This is even though:
The Johannesburg Zoo had made it very clear from the outset that it had not initiated the partnership with the Zoo in Prague.
The travel arrangements were undertaken by a private company commissioned by Clive Albutt – the private game keeper who initiated the partnership.
The Zoo in Prague had stated that they had conducted the necessary tests on the Sitatunga and todate have not been willing or able to provide the investigators or WAZA with copies of the clearance certificates.
The consignment went through three checkpoints in Europe prior to landing in South Africa without any of the authorities verifying the clearance for the virus.
The German airline that transported the animals had refused the return of the consignment of Sitatunga and has subsequently had its animal carrier status suspended.
DAFF requirements for a clearance for the virus in SA, was not a prerequisite when the travel permits were being facilitated.