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German zoos ask Merkel for funds to feed animals during crisis

World

BERLIN (Reuters) – Zoos in Germany have written to Chancellor Angela Merkel pleading for 100 million euros to help them look after their animals during the coronavirus crisis.

“Unlike other organizations, we cannot just run down our operations, our animals must be fed and looked after,” said Joerg Junhold, president of the Association of Zoos, which has 56 members in Germany plus a few in Switzerland and Austria.

Zoo costs are as high as ever but with no visitors allowed, there is zero income, said Junhold, meaning some bigger zoos were dealing with weekly losses of about half a million euros.

Berlin Zoo Director Andreas Knieriem said he had been overwhelmed by local support in the German capital but stressed that challenges were enormous.

“I am crossing my fingers that we will all soon have survived this difficult time,” Knieriem said.

On top of the financial problems, keepers at Berlin Zoo have also said some of its animals are missing visitors.

“The monkeys really enjoy watching people,” zoo spokeswoman Philine Hachmeister was quoted by the Maerkische Onlinezeitung as saying, adding seals and parrots were also stimulated by interaction with the visitors.

“It is a bit boring for them at the moment,” she said.

Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Alison Williams