For Release: March 3, 2004
Contact: Carolyn Martin 202-673-0209
USDA Inspects National Zoo Elephant House
The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted its second unannounced inspection of 2004 at the National Zoo on Feb. 9 and 10. The inspection focused on two areas: animal care programs for the elephants, giraffes, hippos, capybaras, peccaries and camels; and updating the status of items from an inspection last July.
The February USDA inspection report required that 16 metal, bent and/or bowed elephant enclosure bars be made structurally sound by this March 1; the report also noted Elephant House renewal had already been planned. The USDA granted the Zoo's request for an extension until May 1 because repairing the bars requires that the elephants be kept outside for extended periods of time. Once started, the work is estimated to take at least two weeks, and the weather isn't expected to be dependably warm enough to begin the repairs until later this month.
The report also noted excessive amounts of peeling paint on the walls of the Elephant House, which must be corrected by June 1, 2004.
The February inspection report noted that the following items from the July 2003 inspection were resolved :
Roof in the caracal (a small cat from Africa and Asia) holding den is repaired and no longer leaking
New solid metal panel was replaced with a mesh panel in the Bat House to keep out pests
New cabinets and floor were installed in the Great Cat exhibit kitchen
New fluorescent lighting was installed in the Commissary
No evidence of rodents was found in the feed/bedding storage area of the Elephant House
Only one item remained non-compliant from the July 2003 report: evidence of rodent holes on the deck of the kangaroo house. However, the report noted the Zoo has taken steps to reduce rodents, such as getting food containers up off the floors and setting traps. The report also noted additional measures to eliminate rodent access and reduce harborage are planned.
Editors Note on USDA inspections:
All USDA inspections are surprises. They are unannounced inspections. The National Zoo is now just like other zoos in this respect.
Inspection reports are given out to public and news media 21 days after the inspection, on request. The 21-day lag time is to permit the inspector to go back and do additional inspections which appear as addenda to the original, and/or to permit the inspected organization to respond or clarify.
There is no such thing as a positive inspection reportat this zoo or any zoo. The inspection focuses ONLY on non-compliance items. A report does not list the things a zoo does right; it lists only the items that are not in compliance with a particular regulation. The code numbers for the regulations are listed on the left side of the report.
The USDA has no requirement for annual physical exams on animals. Note that the last USDA report (from the January surprise inspection) said that some of the National Zoo animals had not received their yearly preventive care exam as outlined in the NZP veterinary SOP [standard operating procedure]. This is a National Zoo standard, and not a requirement of the USDA or the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.