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Assessment of Zion Operator

Assessment of Zion Operator

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Published by Storm Gerome
Report dated 23rd October 2008 Uploaded with permission
Report dated 23rd October 2008 Uploaded with permission

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Storm Gerome on Oct 12, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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23rd October 2008Patricia BuschManaging DirectorZion Wildlife GardensDear PatriciaWith nearly thirty years spent anaging gae reser!es and "oos in #frica and $e%Zealand& including !ery recently se!en years as the director of #uc'land Zoo& ( ha!e been!ery pleasantly ipressed at the standard of anial care and 'no%ledge)ability sho%n bythe staff at Zion Wildlife Gardens *ZWG+, -he surprise& %hich ( did not e.pect& %as theris' and nuber of issues that the current operator is iposing on the business,/onsidering these issues& his lac' of adherence to the M# Zoo Operator re1uireentsand the fact that he has a criinal record it is surprising that he has been appro!ed as theoperator,
Synopsis of Key Issues created by The Operator
-he operator is clearly trying to daage the business as ( %itnessed %ith issues %hether financially *e,g, the cancellation of the cat interacti!e tours+ or byattepting ruin the credibility of the ZWG by creating issues)incidents that couldlead to harand affect the ability of ZWG to operate,
-he cancellation of big cat interacti!e tours& %hich are clearly in high deand& isaffecting the re!enue of ZWG %hich in turn acts to ipede the costly %or' re1uiredto reedy the costly M#containent re1uireents, -hese tours ha!e beenconducted regularly by e.isting staff *as seen on the - Prograe+& %ithout theoperator present and !ery often %hen the operator off4site %ithout any issues and %ith his appro!al,
-he operator is responsible for ensuring that all M#"oo and containentstandards are adhered to, -his includes a regularly updated "oo anual %ith safetyprotocols& staff training records etc %hich has been %ritten but in any cases notput into practise, -he current operator has created a par' %ith nuerous areas thatdo not eet containent standards& little or no foral staff training& firears%hich are eant to be accessible to staff no% loc'ed a%ay in his house etc etc  heno% blaes all these issues on the director %here clearly he& as operator isresponsible,
While there are al%ays ipro!eents needed in anial %elfare and enrichent it isinteresting to note that the %elfare issues %hich ha!e been reported to M# such
as the de4cla%ing of cats and ha!ing too any anials in too sall an enclosure areall situations created under the direction of the operator, 5e has claied innocenceand laid the blae on the director,
-he par' anual %hich %as copiled by the operator has as one of its ob6ecti!es toensure 71uality beha!ioural and enrichent prograes, -he only sign of the ostbasic enrichent in the enclosures are a fe% tree stups %hich staff ha!e placedthere in his absence and one staff eber said %hen he cae bac' he said 7youcrac' e up thus belittling %hat %e had done, Only one tiger has a pool  one of thebasic but best enrichents for this species, 5e has stopped the big cat %al's %hich%ere also a for of enrichent for the cat being ta'en out and for those %hich thecat %ould %al' past, When ( 1uestioned the staff about enrichent it %as clear thatadding no!el enrichent on a regular basis is not part of the culture %hich theoperator has created in the par',
-he lac' of staff training is a 'ey issue %ith such potentially dangerous anials, -hesenior handler and another 'ey staff eber)anial handler ( spo'e to said theyha!e ne!er actually recei!ed any training fro the operator, (n personalcounication %ith hi he told e he %as underta'ing 7re4training before he %ouldsign off any staff to %or' %ith the cats  he stopped the cat %al's etc about fi!eonths ago, 9taff confired that no training apart fro the one incident describedbelo% had ta'en place,
(n a recent 7training e.ercise the operator bro'e the nor)rules& including his o%n&%hen he told t%o staff *as an incenti!e+ that if they ran %ith a tiger& he %ould signthe off as big cat handlers, -he t%o staff did as he said and at different tiesboth %ere 'noc'ed do%n by tigers %ho instincti!ely ga!e chase  one of the staffebers had a tiger attept to bite hi on the leg and the other ended up %ith thetiger pinning hi do%n and going for his throat, -he tiger %as beaten off by theother staff eber %hile the operator stood :04;00 etres a%ay and ade noattept to assist the situation but rather 'ept encouraging the to repeat theperforance, -he operator said he %as teaching the ho% to react in case of suchan eergency< /learly one does not create a 7li!e situation for such a drill, -raining and conditioning of anials rests on a consistent and cal approach, ( could not help %onder if the operator %as loo'ing for a serious incident that %ould assist hi in his attepts to daage the par's reputation and ability to operate e!en further,
-he operator is unstable  staff do not trust hi)feel cofortable %hen he 6oinsthe %ith the anials, #ll the staff ha!e said he has terrific ood s%ings andconstantly changes his ind, 5e is not dependable and for e.aple called a eetingto discuss training that %ould occur the follo%ing day and the ne.t day the staff
%aited as agreed only to ha!e the operator not a'e an appearance,
9taff and the director see to ha!e little)no idea of his o!eents on)off site ande!en in and out of the country at ties  the operator or his noinee should be at allties contactable<
(t is interesting that the operator has had nuerous bites)%ounds fro cats butthe staff ha!e none< -%o of the 'ey cat handlers both told e that any of thecats becoe unpredictable %hen the operator is in close pro.iity,
9taff reported that the operator had at the !ery last inute cancelled a nuber oftours %hich he %as due to conduct& lea!ing the staff to ha!e to deal %ith upset andirate !isitors, One staff eber said he referred to the public as 7parasites, -hisfro the person %ho set the culture aongst the staff,
-he operator is seldo on site)%ith the staff& there are no regular foral staffeetings to discuss issues& progress& proposals and direction, -he operator has notensured regular training& boundary and other containent chec's and other basics asre1uired by M#, With his constant absences o!er& he can not possibly ha!e his finger onthe pulse, (t %ould appear fro his cancellation of big cat interacti!e tours& deliberately puttingstaff safety at ris' and other ischief that staff ha!e entioned& that he is deterinedto bring the business into financial difficulties and bad reputation, One senior staffeber said he had been told by the operator that this %as his ob6ecti!e and that in this%ay he intended e!entually to sell the par',-he operator is unstable %ith enorous ood s%ings and as entioned the a6ority ofstaff are not cofortable in his presence, ( personally 1uestioned& %ith the director andlegal tea& the situation %here he has the firears loc'ed in his house %ith regards thesafety of all of those on site, One staff eber said %ithout any ention of thefirears fro e that he often felt uncofortable %ith his bac' to the operators house7( can feel the bullet heading for y bac'<( ha!e personally ne!er encountered such a ris'y situation and find it difficult to belie!ethat the operator has got a%ay %ith as uch as he has by 7pulling the %ool o!er the eyesof the police& M# and soe indi!iduals, -here is an accident %aiting to happen and thelonger the issues are not addressed& the greater the chance of serious har to aperson)s on the site,

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