Zoo Must Ramp Up Safety After Gorilla’s Tragic Death

Target: Prague Zoo director Miroslav Bobek

Goal: Replace the climbing ropes that killed one of the zoo’s gorillas and install security cameras to prevent future animal deaths.

Zoos that keep wild animals in captivity also have the responsibility to protect their animals from harm, both in the form of natural predators and human hazards. But a gorilla at the Prague Zoo recently met an untimely end when one of the climbing ropes meant to entertain him instead ensnared and strangled him. Five-year-old Tatu was discovered by zoo workers dangling from one of the many ropes in his enclosure. A female gorilla, Kamba, was trying to free him from his makeshift noose, but both she and the workers were too late.

Tatu was a much-beloved member of the world-famous Prague Zoo. Tens of thousands of people watched his birth online when the zoo streamed it on their website in 2007. But his death stands as a stark reminder that all too often zoos do not take adequate safety precautions with their animal inhabitants. Tatu was able to unbraid one of the climbing ropes in his habitat, accidentally creating what would become his own death trap. And because there were no zoo employees watching the gorillas overnight and no security cameras monitoring the enclosure, no one knew the danger Tatu had placed himself in until after it had claimed his life.

For the sake of the six gorillas that remain in the exhibit, the Prague Zoo must implement stricter safety protocols and revamp the gorilla habitat so as to remove all danger to the animals. Tell zoo director Miroslav Bobek that his animals deserve better than to be killed by inadequate monitoring and deteriorating enclosures.


Dear Mr. Bobek,

The Prague Zoo draws countless visitors to its various animal habitats, but few of its animals are as well-loved as the gorillas. That’s why the death of the young gorilla Tatu comes as such a tragedy to the zoo–especially when precautions could have been taken to prevent his accidental hanging.

Five-year-old Tatu died after unbraiding and becoming entangled in one of the many climbing ropes that adorned his habitat. In order to prevent such an accident from ever occurring again, these ropes and others like them must be replaced in all primate enclosures. A lack of overnight surveillance also meant that no zoo workers were alerted to Tatu’s situation until long after he had perished. Installing security cameras throughout the Prague Zoo could help prevent similar accidents that occur after zoo patrons and employees have gone home for the night.

Zoo animals depend on their human caretakers for their survival and well-being. I ask that you shoulder the responsibility of protecting your animals from accidental death within their own homes. Please take additional safety precautions to ensure that an incident like this never occurs again.


[Your Name Here]

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