A drama Tuesday morning in Amersfoort Zoo. Two chimpanzees were shot there after escaping from their enclosure. Many people wonder why the monkeys were killed right away, and why they were not sedated. “This was the best and the only solution,” according to the zoo.
Head of animal care Willem Verdonck (42) is quite sad about it. Chimpanzees Mike and Karibuna escaped from their enclosures on Tuesday morning due to ‘human error’. They probably weren’t closed properly.
‘Chimpanzees very dangerous’
When the caretakers discovered this, panic ensued. There were visitors in the park and employees were also at risk. “Chimpanzees are potentially very dangerous animals that can cause really serious physical harm or even more. They can even be fatal, ”says Verdonck. He was face to face with chimpanzee Mike on Monday morning after he heard through the two-way radio that monkeys were roaming free.
As a responsible animal caretaker, Verdonck had to make a choice in a matter of minutes: how do we ensure that there are no victims here? “Everything goes very quickly and safety for animals and humans is the most important. “The situation was even more difficult because it involved two males who were fairly confident and had no intention of re-entering the enclosure very easily. They were high in their adrenaline. ”
Also read: Two chimpanzees shot after escaping from Amersfoort Zoo
Biggest Nightmare That Has Come True
With that in mind it was decided to shoot the animals. “Unfortunately we had to take out the animals. For safety, this was the best and the only solution. It is terrible to make such a choice ”, says Verdonck. “You can’t just discuss and schedule a meeting. This is your biggest nightmare that has come true. ”
Verdonck is visibly taken aback when he discusses the situation on Monday morning. “It affects me a lot. I know those animals. When I see the atmosphere in the park now, among employees, among people, that is real pain and sorrow. It affects everyone very much. ”
Why not anaesthetize?
Half a day later, Verdonck is still completely behind his decision to shoot the animals. “When we had located the animals, we naturally looked at whether we could anaesthetize the animals, but that possibility simply did not exist.”
“An anesthetic dart would only have an effect fifteen minutes after you shoot it. We didn’t have that time ”, the main caretaker explains. The behavior of the animals showed that they could potentially pose a great danger to humans. “The fear is that those animals will injure people, attack and pose a danger.”
Also read: Fearful moments for visitors to Amersfoort Zoo: ‘Chimpanzees could catch the children’
‘Had a nice life’
“There was no other option”, Verdonck emphasizes once again. “I am faced with the decision we have made. Despite the fact that I have known Mike for over 23 years and greeted him every day. ”
It will also take some time for the affected carer to process the situation. “For myself I can say that Mike has had a very beautiful life here for fifty years, with a lot of love. And he did not notice much of the shooting himself. “
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