While a lot of the worst things that ever happened at zoos can often be connected to human error more than animalistic issues, it might be a bit of both when it comes to Gu Gu The Panda. He is never known for being great to visitors, welcoming, and he does not even bother to smile. He is his own rebel Panda, and that is just how he likes it. One would assume if there was ever a panda not to cross, it would be him. Yet three dumb tourists thought otherwise and decided to climb into his pen.
Gu Gu experienced these tourists on three separate occasions too. Therefore, the other two at least knew better. Gu Gu decided to bite each one of them. During the third issue, he had to have his jaws pried open when he refused to let go of a moron who jumped in. The reason this is one of the worst things that ever happened at zoos is two-fold. First, how could security not be better after the first incident? Second, how can we continue to force Gu Gu to deal with the public he dislikes?
While the average tapir can be considered dangerous, it is rare that they ever have a violent encounter with humans. If left alone, most animals will avoid conflict with us, but tapirs tend to be even more unlikely to attack. They are herbivores and have a trunk a lot like an elephant. It is simply not as long. You’d be forgiven if you assumed that the species did not have any teeth, but they do. One zookeeper realized just how bad they can hurt too.
Lisa Morehead went to feed Melody the tapir one 1998 morning. But after she reached into the small opening to place food in the enclosure, Melody decided to latch onto Morehead’s arm. Melody was so powerful that Lisa was pulled into the cage. The tapir managed to severe the arm, and it was deemed too mangled to reattach. While unclear why Melody acted as she did at the time, it was later determined to be motherly instinct. Melody’s two-month-old baby was in the cage with her at the time.
One of the biggest issues with people that might attend a zoo is that some like to taunt the animals. If they were around them without a cage or enclosure there to protect them, they’d never do this. Yet many kids are not aware of this and might not even know they are taunting the creatures. Such an incident happened at the Dallas Zoo in 2004 involving Jabari The Gorilla. He had been taunted by several guests, both adults and kids alike, that day and seemed to have enough of it.
Jabari scaled the 16-foot fence of his enclosure and went on a rampage. He attacked four people, which included one child. Rivers Noah, the child, was only three years old and Jabari placed him in his mouth and shook the child violently while his mother looked on in horror. The local SWAT team was forced to shoot and kill Jabari after 40 minutes of pursuing him, but thankfully all the humans made it out alive. Yet this is still one of the worst things that ever happened at zoos in this region.
Wilson’s Wild Animal Park is now permanently closed and has been since 2019, but before they were forced to do so, they abused numerous animals. The animal park was found to have a monkey dungeon where the primates were kept, often chained up. Yet other animals, such as a group of bears, were put into crowded enclosures. These same enclosures were open to the sun, which heated up the concrete floors they were forced to walk around on. They were not given enough water to help them on these hot days.
Even when they did, it became warm during the day. On top of that, many animals were not given much food. The owner, Keith Wilson, was initially hit with 46 counts of animal cruelty by the USDA. While all of this is among the worst things that ever happened at zoos anywhere, Wilson’s went even further. In October 2020, the park was officially charged with 10 counts of animal trafficking along with a further 10 counts of animal cruelty charges. The Animal Law Unit saved 119 animals from this zoo in 2019.
While some might assume a gorilla holding a knife might not be as big a problem as some might assume, it truly is. We might have evolved from our primate cousin, but we learned how to use tools dating back to the time we weren’t that different from modern-day gorillas. Thus, when a gorilla grabbed a knife at Calgary Zoo in 2009 due to a zookeeper accidentally leaving it behind when he left their enclosure – it was considered a big problem.
A female gorilla named Barika found it and took great interest in the knife, inspecting it. While another gorilla, Zuri, tried to have a look, Barika refused. Barika then began brandishing around the knife and getting pretty dangerous with it, possibly becoming a danger to herself and other nearby gorillas. Once Barika pounded her chest, Zuri backed off in the attempt to see the knife. Satisfied with her inspection of it, Barika placed the knife back down and the zookeeper quickly went in to grab it.
Park Treats Female Giraffe Like A Breeding Machine
Establishment:Animal Adventure Park
Location:Harpursville, New York
Female giraffes have calves quite a lot in the wild, so most zoos are open to them mating even in captivity. However, in captivity, there are often limits on mating. This is done for controlling the number of new animals they might get, as well as the safety of the female. On top of this, giraffes are not weaned from their mother until after 1 year of life. Some mothers stick with their young for their entire lives too.
Yet Animal Adventure Park did not consider such things. April the Giraffe was put into several mating situations where she had a few calves. From there, the zoo separated some calves from April after just a year and a half. Others were taken at just a mere few weeks old. If that’s not enough, the Park live-streamed each birth to make money off of it. Obviously, this is one of the worst things that ever happened at zoos. Sadly, April was put down by the zoo in 2020 due to bad arthritis too.
Located within the Marakele National Park in South Africa, you’ll find the Marataba Safari Lodge. It is considered to be a great place for visitors, but the primary reason it has been so safe for people is due to game trackers. They have a valuable job for these major parks where many animals roam free over hundreds to thousands of acres of land. Sadly, in March 2021, a game tracker named Malibongwe Mfila was killed by two young lions roughly 20 meters from his vehicle.
The young lions came out of nowhere, and clearly, Mfila had no idea they were there. A tracking expert, Mailgongwe was great at following where big predators were at all times. Yet even he could not have eyes in the back of his head. Lions are known for being skilled hunters, making it hard to escape one for most animals. Park Rangers did end up shooting both lions, mostly because the park officials felt they were likely to attack more humans in the future. Killing them removed that issue.
Terry Thompson was a big animal lover. Due to this, he tried to preserve and collect some of the rarest and most exotic animals in the world for his own private wildlife zoo. It was located on his own estate, but it was hard to truly take care of all of them. When Thompson went to prison on federal weapons charges for one year, his wife had to take care of the dozens of animals her husband was forced to leave behind. Terry had dark demons inside his head as well.
Once he returned home from prison, he soon decided to take his own life. However, before he did this, he decided to release several of his animals from their cages or exhibits. That forced the Zanesville police to get involved, who saw the animals as a major public threat. That made them decide to use lethal force as a result. In total, 49 of the animals were killed. This included 17 lions, 6 black bears, 2 gazelles, 3 mountain lions, 2 wolves, 1 baboon, and 18 rare Bengal Tigers.
When we think of some of the worst things that ever happened at zoos, nine times out of ten it has to do with people getting hurt or killed. Yet, some people might believe these people deserve what happened to them, such as Kathryn Warburton. Binky the Polar Bear was a staple at Alaska Zoo for many years until his death in 1995. Yet in 1994, Kathryn decided she would jump two different railings to get closer to the 1,200-pound bear.
She also did not bother to turn her flash off, so the moment Warburton began taking pictures, Binky seemed to heavily dislike everything. This led to Binky sticking his face through the railings remaining where he bit down on Kathryn, breaking her leg. He even kept her shoe for three days before zookeepers were safely able to get it back. This set Binky into stardom all across the United States. It was sadly short-lived due to his death a year later, but it was fun while it lasted.
It is likely we all know the story of Harambe the gorilla by now. The story goes that a 4-year-old somehow managed to get away from his parents long enough that he found himself falling into Harambe’s exhibit. To be fair to the little guy, he is just a kid, and naturally, he is bound to make mistakes. Yet Harambe is a full-grown gorilla who could kill any adult if he wanted to do so, a little boy was no different. Harambe, obviously curious to see a small hairless primate in his exhibit, checked him out.
At first, no one knew what was going to happen. Harambe picked him up and some actually assumed he might be preparing to protect the child. Yet gorillas are much rougher than humans, so his dragging of the child was potentially too violent. This caused zookeepers to shoot and kill the silverback. Due to all of this being caught on camera phones in 2016, it sparked outrage online. It truly was one of the worst things that ever happened at a zoo. Worst of all, it was incredibly preventable!
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