Did a zoo really shoot a baby hippo?
April 20, 2010 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Did Auckland zoo(in New Zealand) really shoot a baby hippo because of budget constraints?

In the Canadian book Shooting the hippo by Linda McQuaig a tv show called W5 is referenced.
The shows host, Eric Malling, said that Auckland zoo killed a baby hippo because their funding had been cut and they did not have enough money to expand the enclosure.
I can not find any other websites that collaborate this claim.
So my question is did it really happen? and if so, why didn't they just relocate it to another zoo?

quote from The Canadian Encyclopedia
(The book's title springs from a tale told by CTV W5 host Eric Malling in his documentary on New Zealand, in which he said that a baby hippopotamus was shot because the zoo could no longer afford to maintain it after funding cuts.)

Quote from:Bluepete.com
The title of Ms. McQuaig's book comes about, she explains, because, down under in New Zealand, they ran out of government money and the country had no way of getting more because of its huge debt. One of the things that New Zealand might have otherwise done, if it had the money, would be to expand its facilities at one of its zoos, so as to accommodate another hippo baby. The authorities, rather than expanding the hippo pool and increasing the budget for herbage decided to shoot it. Apparently, a Canadian TV news program, "W5", used this story, the shooting of this little unwanted hippo, as a concrete example of what can happen when an overspent country "hits the wall."
posted by Phcyso to Pets & Animals (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my memory it went a bit differently (I'm 80% percent sure, I can't find a reference at the moment). It was along the lines that the baby was rejected by its mother and they already had something like 3 hippos segregated due to personality issues. Cantankerous beasts!

"If so, why didn't they relocate it to another zoo?" One can only imagine the costs of raising and moving a hippo to another zoo (which would be overseas, there are no other hippos kept in NZ). Also - sad? Really? Humanely putting down a creature you can't adequately care for is quite responsible in my book.
posted by teststrip at 3:56 AM on April 20, 2010

Not directly answering your question, but it seems the source is not the most reliable.

There were many who believed that Malling's attitude was too cavalier, that in his quest for edge he could cause real harm to people. His hour-long "New Zealand" documentary for W5 in February 1993 was one such example. Journalist and author Linda McQuaig was infuriated by the program. "It was just full of misinformation," she says.

posted by brambory at 4:08 AM on April 20, 2010

A more recent Swiss example suggests that there is demand in Europe, at least, for baby hippos when one zoo runs out of space. Surprisingly, apparently there is a habit of euthanizing animals and feeding them to the carnivores (makes more sense than shooting them, anyway) when overpopulation occurs.

In America, animals are routinely either sterilized or put on birth control if it is considered impractical for them to breed in captivity, though with many species a new baby ups attendance for a zoo. Apparently, in Europe (and presumably in the NZ case you reference), animals are allowed to reproduce as they would in the wild, with all the inherent hassles and complications that entails.
posted by misha at 7:06 AM on April 20, 2010

Have you tried asking the Auckland Zoo?
posted by nickmark at 10:45 AM on April 20, 2010

For one thing, the Auckland Zoo is funded by the Auckland City Council, ie by local government, not by national government, so that already tells me that someone is fudging their account of what happened.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:38 PM on April 20, 2010

they ran out of government money and the country had no way of getting more because of its huge debt

This bit is utter bunk. I remember back in those days we would get messages from Canadians in the NZ newsgroups, asking about what it was like after the IMF stepped in [for the uninitiated - this never happened].

Always from Canada. We wondered if it was something in the water there. Now I know the answer.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:08 PM on April 20, 2010

Best answer: A more accurate though still highly partisan view of what happened in NZ in the late 80s can be found here in Alister Barry's Someone Else's Country. Recommended viewing.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:53 PM on April 20, 2010

« Older It's burst into flames! It burst into flames, and...   |   Help me create big circles of content that orbit... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.