Good morning Minnesota Zoo Volunteers,
On Wednesday afternoon, August 2, a nine-year old girl was bit by a
meerkat. Because of the potential for rabies, the Zoo was required to
euthanize the troop of meerkats and test for rabies (all five animals
tested negative for rabies). The reason we had to euthanize all five
animals that were on exhibit at the time of the incident is because we
had no way of knowing which meerkat bit the girl.
The Zoo is saddened by this incident. 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.
The outdoor Meerkat exhibit will be temporarily closed as modifications
are made to the exhibit. The remaining four male meerkats that have
been on display in the Aardvark Exhibit will continue to be exhibited
indoors until modifications on the outdoor Meerkat Exhibit are complete.
Please note that this story is being picked up by virtually every media
outlet. As of Friday morning, all of the stories have shown the Zoo in
a favorable light. If you are asked questions about this unfortunate
incident, please keep your answers and dialogue as simple as possible
in accordance with the facts stated above. Do not speculate about
details. Do not offer your personal opinion about the situation.
Info on rabies HERE
Good info on diagnosis, treatment & prevention HERE
Comments I've seen in my journal, friends journals, and comments to articles all seem to be overwhelmingly of the belief that the parents are bad parents who didn't watch their kid and that they should have had the vaccine done.
I remember when I was a kid when they would talk about rabies shots it was twenty very painful shots in the stomach. Now it is 6 simple shots in the arm over a 4 week period. Is that really a lot if it means not having to kill five animals that are almost certainly not infected? The news have not released the family's name. Probably for the best because I'm not hearing anyone say that they made the right decision when they decided to kill 5 innocent animals.
I still firmly believe that these parents should be permanently banned from the zoo and that they should have to pay for the necropsies and the replacement cost of 5 meerkats.