City of Joburg

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo

Johannesburg Zoo


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A consignment of eight antelopes landed at OR Tambo International Airport from the Czech Republic via Germany on Friday, 1 August 2014, without all the necessary veterinary import documentation.

An attempt was made to return the animals to the Czech Republic, but unfortunately, Germany refused their transit through their territory. The importer was also given the option of finding an alternative market for them, which also did not materialise. Among the diseases of concern, is schmallenberg, which has been detected in Europe and remains an OIE unreportable disease, as a result, South Africa does not know the extent of the outbreak.

South Africa, other than its valuable wild life, has an in excess of 20 million susceptible and naive livestock population, which should schmallenberg be introduced to, will suffer great losses. The country is still trying to recover from devastating outbreaks which negatively affected its ability to trade in these animals and their products. Risking the introduction of a new disease will have a crippling effect on the industry, not only as a result of loss of markets, but because of the large mortalities that will be experienced.

To ensure the welfare of the animals, under the circumstances, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals (NSPCA) was called to assist and to assess the situation throughout.

Extensive consultations took place, both internally and with industry representatives. It was agreed that the best option is still to have returned the animals to their country of origin, failing which humane euthanasia remained the best option under the circumstances. Sadly, the animals had to be put down, under the watchful eye of the NSPCA to protect the national herd and flock.

The department will be working with the SAPS, SARS, Department of Environmental Affairs, NSPCA and other relevant departments to resolve the matter. Contact will also be made with the relevant airline and veterinary authorities.

The department would like to thank all parties involved, especially the NSPCA in ensuring the welfare of these animals.

For media enquiries and further information please contact:

Ms Makenosi Maroo
Chief Director: Stakeholder Relations and Communication
Tel: 012 319 6787
Cell: 072 475 2956



Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, would like to clarify the following facts concerning the procurement, transporting, offer to quarantine and the subsequent decision taken by the state veterinarian and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAFF) to humanely euthanize the 8 Sitatunga's that arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Friday, 1 August 2014.

  1. Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo did not enter into negotiations with the Zoo in Prague for the acquisition of the 8 Sitatunga (antelope) from the Czech Republic.
  2. The Joburg Zoo entered into an agreement to offer its accredited quarantine facilities on arrival of the antelopes into South Africa. This facility is used extensively due to its proximity to the OR Tambo International Airport.
  3. In terms of accepted industry practice, the Zoo negotiated that in lieu of the service fee for the use of its quarantine facilities, that 2 of the Sitatungas will be retained by the Zoo, for its conservation programme.
  4. The challenge arose, when the Sitatunga's had arrived after being in transit through 3 checkpoints in Europe without the necessary clearance certificates especially for the Schmallenberg Virus which is evident in Europe.
  5. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry (DAFF) then attempted to return the consignment, and Germany through Lufthanza Airlines indicated their unwillingness to accept the animals.
  6. An informed decision was then taken by DAFF and the state veterinarian to humanely euthanize the Sitatungas on Sunday, after some of the antelope were found injured, dehydrated and traumatised.
  7. Joburg Zoo subscribes to the principles of World Association of Zoos and Animals (WAZA) and the Pan African Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquaria, did not illegally attempt to acquire the Sitatungas.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo would like to advise that the due diligence was not followed in the release of the animals in the Czech Republic, and this unfortunately led to DAFF having to implement the necessary measures to protect the over 20 million animal livestock found in the country.

Enquires in this regard can be directed to:

Jenny Moodley
Spokesperson for Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo
Cell: 082 8030 748
Email: jmoodley@jhbcityparks
Ms Makenosi Maroo
Chief Director: Stakeholder Relations and Communications
Cell: 072 475 2956