Police intervene in Poznań Zoo over alleged mistreatment of animals

At the order of the provincial prosecutor’s office, balaclava-dressed police officers entered a zoo park in the western Polish city of Poznań searching for a document confirming the castration of an antelope.

According to the police, the zoo’s authorities failed to timely provide the document requested by the prosecutor’s office as part of an investigation into the alleged maltreatment of two tigers and two antelopes.

The story behind the animals' arrival at Poznań zoo started when they were taken from an illegal breeder.

“The animals were kept in terrible conditions, thus a decision to evacuate them has been made,” said police inspector Andrzej Borowiak.

The animals were then put in the zoo temporarily. After some time, an anonymous letter reached the police claiming that the tigers and antelopes were abused by the zoo’s staff. Meanwhile, the animals’ former owner also claimed that the animals were mistreated.

“Allegedly, the abuse came down to the illegal castration of a few animals that were kept in the zoo’s custody,” the Poznań city prosecutor’s office spokesman Michał Smętkowski told Poland’s private broadcaster TVN24.

A statement released by the zoo’s authorities reads that “despite continuous appeals and calls that lasted for about 20 months, the prosecutor’s office have not contributed financially to improve the animals’ welfare, their enclosures nor to provide veterinarian aid. Given these circumstances, we have been asking that the animals be transported to other zoos.”

The castration of two tigers, a red lechwe and another antelope was brought about by the zoo staff’s fear for their lives, as, allegedly, the animals were aggressive “We sent the castration report to the prosecutor’s office,” the zoo stated.

The prosecutor’s office is of a different opinion, namely that “these documents have not been provided for over two months. We had no other choice but to commence a thorough search. [The zoo’s] documentation has been copied and as of now will be used in the investigation process. According to my knowledge, the secured documentation lacks any documents concerning the castration.”

Golden brown with white bellies and standing to 100 cm, the red lechwe or southern lechwe, is an antelope found in wetlands of south-central Africa.