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Yes, most of the Minnesotans on my flist have already posted this, but I just have to get my rant on too...


Last update: August 04, 2006 – 12:03 PM

Destroyed meerkats did not have rabies
A family of five Minnesota Zoo meerkats destroyed after a girl was bitten did not have rabies, a zoo official said today.
Bob Von Sternberg and Chao Xoingstar Tribune Staff Writers

A family of five Minnesota Zoo meerkats destroyed after a girl was bitten did not have rabies, a zoo official said today.
The girl, who has not been identified, was bitten Wednesday when she reached her hand into the animals' exhibit.

The meerkats -- two mates and their three offspring born this spring -- had been vaccinated for rabies but were killed because the girl's parents didn't want her to have to undergo a series of rabies shots, said zoo collections manager Tony Fisher.

Meerkats are a highly social relative of the mongoose and are native to the African desert. They were popularized in the Disney animated movie "The Lion King" and have been on display at the zoo for about four years.

The 9-year-old girl had climbed atop 3 feet of rock work and reached over a 4-foot glass barrier Wednesday afternoon when she was bitten, Fisher said. The rock work is designed to allow kids to climb up for a better view, he said.

Zoo staff members were notified soon after the incident. The exhibit was closed until crews can lower the rock work to prevent anyone else from reaching over the glass, Fisher said.

A second group of meerkats will be moved from an indoor exhibit to the outdoor one when the modifications are complete, he said, adding that the time frame is unknown.

The entire family of meerkats was destroyed because it is unknown which one bit the girl, Fisher said, adding there is little to no chance that the animals carried the disease.

Meerkats are curious, bold animals, traits that make them highly popular at zoos, Fisher said, but they are still wild. "We handle them with thick leather gloves," he said. "They're not pets."

Incidents of visitors trying to pet animals or even scaling barriers for a closer view are not uncommon, he said.

©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

This has pissed me off so much. A nine year old should know better. Also, where were her parents? Did they see her climbing up and reaching down? Did they tell her not to?

This family should be banned from the zoo for life. They should also have to pay the replacement costs for 5 meerkats and the necropsies. 

Is it cruel and petty of me that I had been hoping that one of the meerkats would have had rabies so that she has to get the shots anyway? 

So the cute little Suricata suricatta in my icon may be dead now. Also, these pictures following? Most likely dead as they were on exhibit just a few weeks ago. 

Yes, people are important, and often times we have to put humans rights and safety over that of animals. But not in this case. These senseless deaths could have all been prevented with a vaccine. Yes, the vaccine isn't fun, but it would also be a lesson to the girl and her parents that life has consequences. I personally feel that as she was reaching into a area off limits and it wasn't a case of an animal getting out and biting her that there should have not been a choice about the shots.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 4th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
I'm on my work computer and not my shiny happy Mac and so I hit the wrong button when typing... The whole post is up now.

It's about the dead meerkats at the MN Zoo.
Aug. 4th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
That's one of the reasons I'm so upset about it. The deaths could have been prevented, all the parents had to do was get the damned shots.
Aug. 4th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
The meerkats were vaccinated against rabies and unlikely to ever been exposed, but they were autopsied just to be safe. I think the kid should be put through the rabies shots anyways, ya know, "just to be safe."

/snark on
Better yet, how about we let all five of the meerkats bite the kid since they all have to be killed anyway?
/snark off

Too many parents are pretty stupid when it comes to the safety of their kids. They expect family friendly venues to do all the work (and thinking) for them. It's not reasonable to expect the general public to behave responsibly.

The rocks that the kid climbed on to reach the animals were put there by the zoo staff expressly for kids to climb on. That kind of thinking really needs to be examined. Does a glass barrier really limit *safe* access to the animals?
Aug. 4th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
The rocks that the kid climbed on to reach the animals were put there by the zoo staff expressly for kids to climb on. That kind of thinking really needs to be examined. Does a glass barrier really limit *safe* access to the animals?

Yes, it does. It's a tall glass barrier on top of the climbing rocks. The only way for the girl to have gotten in there enough to have been bitten (it's a four FOOT-tall piece of glass atop the rocks) is for her parents to have been grossly negligent.
Aug. 4th, 2006 10:29 pm (UTC)
I loved the setup they had because I was able to take pictures without smeared glass in the way. I can't imagine how a 9-year-old could reach over that glass though if anyone was watching her. F'ing parents should be vaccinated for stupidity!
Aug. 7th, 2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
Sterilize the parents; they obviously can't handle the children they already have, and certainly can't handle any more.
Aug. 4th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
I feel really bad for the Minneapolis Department of Public Health. What a horrible decision to have to make.
Aug. 4th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
They didn't have to make the decision, it was made for them.

When a person at the Zoo is bit by an animal that has the potential to carry rabies, the Zoo has two
options: 1. The person who is bit goes through the rabies vaccination series; or 2. If they are not able or willing to take the series, the Department of Public Health then mandates that the Zoo must euthanize the animal and test for rabies. The only way to test for rabies is via necropsy in the brain.

So the negligent parents were the ones that decided that 5 animals should be put to death rather than making their child who was clearly at fault get five shots in the arm.
Aug. 5th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC)
Hmmm, I'm not sure we'd have done the same. I'm pretty sure factors such as the fact that they were vaccinated and a low risk in general for carrying rabies would have been taken into account.

Aug. 4th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
OH MY GOD. If that had been MY nine year old? She would have had rabies shots as a PUNISHMENT and REMINDER for not ever EVER disobeying rules about wild animals.

ALSO: she never would have reached over the glass enclosure because a) I would have stopped her b) she knows better and c) she can READ.

Jesus. That's horrible!! That family ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Aug. 4th, 2006 11:09 pm (UTC)
Oh Stoney, this story just makes me SICK!

If there were more parents like you the world would be a better place!

The vaccine? Six shots in the arm over a 4 week time frame. Not more irritating than any other vaccine.

I can understand (although I don't agree with) saying no to the vaccine back in the day when it was twenty painful shots in the stomach. But to decide that your child that you can't even be bothered to be keeping an eye on having to get shots is more trouble than killing 5 beautiful little creatures just doing what their nature say? Criminal!

They have not released the name of the family at all. Probably for the best because the sentiment here with everyone I've talked to is that the family made the wrong choice.

When you come to Minnesota some day I will take you and your smart & well-behaved children to see our wonderful zoo!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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