Outside experts say BREC Zoo not at fault for high profile animals deaths

Outside experts say BREC Zoo not at fault for high profile animals deaths

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Reports from several outside experts have come in saying the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo did everything they could to provide high quality care for their animals and is not responsible for their deaths.

The American Association of Zoos (AZA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and a long-time veterinarian all reached independent conclusion to this effect.

"The incidents of the last several months appear to be a string of unfortunate events that have no common thread. There did not appear to be a culture of laxity in the events that led to the giraffe deaths as the response to these events was swift and appropriate," said the AZA audit team. "The tiger death was an unpreventable event due to the deep chested animals being predisposed to torsion. The mitigation of the dog entrance to the zoo seems appropriate in this difficult environment," said the report.

The team also reviewed some animal deaths that dated back to over a year ago, saying, "The team also reviewed the additional necropsy reports from the previous eighteen months and did not find any evidence that negligence or staff error may have contributed to the deaths. Together they (the Baton Rouge Zoo staff) are focused on the best care for the collection."

The Baton Rouge Zoo currently houses 650 animals. More than 14% of its 143 mammals are considered geriatric, meaning the animals have received such good care that they are living long, healthy lives.

The Zoo is subject to annual surprise inspections from the USDA, which focus on all of the animals' welfare and daily care.

"In addition, every five years the Baton Rouge Zoo undergoes a year-long accreditation process through AZA, which only the top 10% of zoos and aquariums in the country achieve," said Phil Frost, director of the Baton Rouge Zoo. "We are extremely grateful for the demonstration of confidence in the current operation and management practices at our zoo from the AZA this year. They have granted us a one-year extension to complete the accreditation process while we work to recover from the flood that devastated our entire region. This is significant because if they had any question about the quality of our staff, animal care or operations, they wouldn't even consider such a gesture," said Frost.

"When animals at our Zoo die, we are just as upset as everyone else – our keepers form bonds that are just as strong as the bonds people have with their own pets, even more so sometimes," said Sam Winslow, assistant director of the Baton Rouge Zoo. "We take our responsibility as caretakers of all of our animals very seriously and our top priority has, and will continue to be, making sure our animals are provided with the best possible care."

To read the full reports, a presentation to the BREC Commission, and letter of confidence from Daniel Paulson, Veterinary Pathologist and Director of the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (LADDL), click here.

For more information about the Zoo, please visit www.brzoo.org.


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