As zoos have been forced to shut gates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many may be forced to euthanise animals. Neumünster Zoo, famous for their gigantic polar bear, is one such establishment. As the government does not provide financial aid to zoos, many zoos in Germany face a supply shortage which will take a toll on the lives of their animals.

Most people have seen the videos of a couple of penguins touring a zoo as it remains closed to visitors. However, not all zoos have their animals happily strolling around the parks while the world enjoys the happy videos of them. The zoo in Neumünster has a kill list being prepared to ensure that animals do not starve to death while visitors stay home to prevent the novel coronavirus spread.

Verena Kaspari, director of Neumünster Zoo, confirmed that she had been a part of the heart-breaking process of listing animals that need to be euthanised. Usually, when a zoo is unable to care for their animals, they have to find a new home in the form of another zoo, a sanctuary or wildlife park to take them in. Due to the lockdown, Neumünster Zoo will not be able to relocate their animals. The zoo also has the largest polar bear in Germany, which cannot be housed at any other zoo.

Speaking about the animals likely to be put down, Kaspari mentioned the larger animals and the animals which need a lot of food. Penguins, seals, and the zoo's famous polar bear are at risk.

Speaking to Die Welt, Kaspari said that the zoo will be losing €175k (£152k) during the lockdown. The VdZ, Germany's national zoo association, pointed out that they cannot run down costs. The cost of upkeep of the animals remains the same irrespective of the zoo's income. The VdZ is not covered by the emergency fund for small businesses so they are not getting any government aid.

Zookeepers also pointed out the emotional toll the lockdown was taking on the animals. The lack of public attention for certain animals, like the apes, has affected their disposition, the BBC reported.

Kaspari stated that she would rather euthanise the animals instead of letting them starve to death. Last month, footage from Changsha, Hunan Province of central China showed the devastating condition of zoo animals abandoned during the lockdown. Over 200 animals at the Animal Party Themed Park were left to starve to death as some of the animals were seen eating the corpses of dead zoo animals.

The VdZ is hoping to get €100m (£87m) from the government to maintain the animals.

IBTPOTY2017 Pictures of the week
Polar bear in a zoo. (representational image) Maxim Zmeyev/AFP