Last year I came in contact with someone who worked as a trainee in the largest public reptile zoo in the Netherlands (it also is the largest shelter for reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates in the Netherlands).
The trainee initially was very pleased that she got the opportunity to work and learn there during a year. She heard positive stories about the zoo and its management.
After working there for a month she started to see things in the zoo that surprised her in an unpleasant way. Especially in the large quarantine rooms she saw things that made her doubt about the animalcare. Other employees agreed with her, but were not allowed to change things. Only the two members of the Board were allowed to do this. And they felt that the animals were housed in a right way and were not open to criticism. The trainee started to make pictures of (and made notes about) the cages and animals that shocked her.
I will place a number of these stories on this blog and you will see that the pictures speak for themselves.
Why do I do this?
The manager of this reptile zoo has often said in public (television, newspapers, etc) that private keepers of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates do not take care of their animals in the right way. He wants stronger laws and a mandatory animal-registration. He thinks he is holier than the Pope because a number of animals which are his responsibility are mistreated in a terrible way. Often this are animals that were confiscated by the government of the Netherlands. They are the property of the Dutch government and the zoo gets payed well to take care of them.
I will start with a small article about tarantulas.
On the quarantine a number of fairly aggressive tarantulas from Africa are housed in very small, plastic terrariums (23 x 15 x 17 cm). These small containers were never cleaned. Employees who worked for several years in the zoo confirmed this. They were not allowed to touch the terrariums. The two managers occasionally threw a cricket or a mealworm in the terrariums and sprayed some water in it once or twice per month.
The terrariums are too disgusting to watch. The photos will speak for itself. The trainee was not sure if the spiders were property of the Dutch government. If so, the zoo gets paid for the "care".
The next article will be about some colubrid snakes.