Friday, February 19, 2016

Zoo employees disciplined following drowning of otter after it was given unauthorised pants

Two employees of Calgary Zoo in Canada have been disciplined for giving an otter a pair of pants, leading to its death. The pants were given to the animal as an "unauthorized enrichment item," according to zoo officials. The otter became tangled in the clothing and then drowned, according to a necropsy.

"This error is simply unacceptable," zoo curator Colleen Baird said. "Our animal care protocols are among the most stringent in the industry and must be followed. We will be reinforcing our protocols with every member of our animal care staff to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again."

The male river otter, named Logan, was seen struggling in the pool last week. A zookeeper jumped into the pool to its aid, but the 12-year-old animal did not survive. When asked, Baird refused to say what type of discipline the two employees face, but said neither was fired.

"Sadly, there was a mistake that was made, human error, and an unauthorised piece of enrichment was in there and an otter died because of it," she told said. A Toronto-based animal protection organization says using pants as an enrichment item is irresponsible. "It smacks of the kinds of things you might see at a roadside zoo, not in a professional operation," said Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck.

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