The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) is shocked to hear of the flooding of the city of Tbilisi and its zoo, which resulted in the death of three members of zoo staff, and the escape and shooting of many of its animals. Tbilisi Zoo is a Candidate for Membership of EAZA, and has been developing its facilities and working practices to meet the standards of the Association under the supervision of an experienced mentor.
EAZA members Prague Zoo (which has had experience of reacting to catastrophic floods) Jerusalem Zoo and Ramat Gan Safari Park, will be sending teams of keepers and veterinarians to Tbilisi to assist with efforts to recapture and contain escaped animals, and make the facility safe for the staff and animals as the water recedes. EAZA is obliged to repeat the call from the Director of Tbilisi Zoo, Zura Gurielidze, for citizens to remain calm and contact authorities if they encounter any wild animal in the city or the surrounding area. On no account should private citizens attempt to recapture or shoot the animals, which should be considered dangerous.
EAZA is gathering information from sources in Tbilisi and elsewhere to build a complete picture of the situation and will be in contact with our members to ascertain how we as a community can most effectively assist. At this stage, we do not know if and when the zoo site will become safe enough for the return of staff and animals; nonetheless, EAZA and its members will do everything possible to assist the local authorities and the management of the zoo ensure the security of the facility and the welfare of the animals.
The EAZA community offers its sincere condolences to the families of the staff who lost their lives. The Association also offers its condolences to the staff of the zoo who have lost not only their friends and colleagues, but also many of the animals they cared for.