A French zookeeper has been sentenced to six months in jail after he was found guilty of beating an ostrich to death in the head with a shovel. In a bit of levity during the trail for this heinous deed, he tried to blame an aging pony for the act.
The zookeeper, whose name has not yet been disclosed, worked at the La Teste-de-Buch in southwestern France. When it was discovered that the ostrich was dead, he told authorities that the pony who shared the stall with the bird was responsible for kicking the ostrich and killing it. However, zoo officials had a difficult time believing a story due to the pony's advanced age, limited spryness and the sheer difference in height.
There was no evidence to prove otherwise until witnesses came forward and stated that they had seen the zookeeper attack the ostrich and beat it in the head until it was near death. This prompted a necropsy which confirmed the witness story of head trauma. The zookeeper, aside from being sentenced to jail for six months, was fired from his job of 15 years and given a fine of 5,000 euros. Who knows how many more animals that have suffered under this cruel zookeepers reign? However, while this zookeeper was to blame was it somehow also the zoo's fault as well?
This event yet again raises the question: are zoos really saving animals on the edge of extinction? Zoos are thought to provide education and an accurate account on how animals live in the wild, but they seem to have lost sight of that goal. Zoos have always had a problem with genetic diversity with problems of interbreeding and the occasional killing of animals born in captivity to prevent that. These animals live in small enclosures and, at times, in cages which result in bored and lonely animals. This results in depression and anxiety leading them to display abnormal behaviors. This event has yet again put the spotlight on zoos and the quality of their care for these precious animals.