Muschi Is Left On Her Own in a Perilous Environment after the Berliner Zoo Kills Off Her Best Friend and Protector, Mäuschen
"Mäuschen wird im Zoo Berlin ewig Leben, sie kann gar nicht sterben."
-- Thomas Dorflein
One of the most enduring, albeit improbable, friendships ever to have developed in the animal kingdom came to a tragic denouement on November 16th when the staff at the Zoologischer Garten Berlin (Berliner Zoo) killed off a forty-two-year-old Asiatic black bear known as Mäuschen. That left her equally famous close companion of the past decade, a former stray named Muschi, heartbroken and once again all alone in a hostile environment. (See photos above and below of them in happier days.)
"Es ging ihr nicht gut," zoo veterinarian André Schüle told the Berliner Zeitung on November 18th. (See "Gnadenspritze für Kragenbärin Mäuschen.") "Sie litt seit Längerem unter Bewegungsstörungen. Wir mussten sie jetzt von ihren Schmerzen erlösen."
That is, of course a debatable point. Since the zoo has not specified what types of movement disorders she was suffering from, she could have had either a form of Parkinson's disease, rhythmische Bewegungsstörung or stereotype Bewegungsstörung, the latter of which is common with caged animals. The important thing to bear in mind is that all of those ailments are treatable to a certain extent.
In recent years, the eight-hundred-eighty-one-pound bear had suffered from chronic arthritis but she always bounced back and soon again was her old self. More importantly, the zoo has not produced any evidence that she was in pain and therefore required a Gnadenspritze.
It also is suspicious that the zoo has not announced what was done with her remains. Back in the early 1990s, zum Beispiel, the zoo's infamous director, Bernard Blaskiewitz, sold three elderly Asiatic bears to a slaughterhouse. He also has been accused of peddling tigers and jaguars to China, which is notorious for exploiting them for their body parts and fluids, in addition to killing at least one-hundred-fifty animals for various reasons.
It therefore is conceivable that the zoo simply got tired of feeding and treating Mäuschen's arthritis and Bewegungsstörungen and sold her to those unscrupulous individuals who traffic in bear meat, their fluids, and various body parts. C'est-à-dire, at this stage of her life she very well could have been worth more to the zoo dead than alive. (See Cat Defender post of November 17, 2005 entitled "Chinese Farmer Gets His Just Desserts as He Is Killed and Eaten by Moon Bears He Tortured for Their Bile.")
The Germans do not treat native brown bears any better. For example, in 2006 they deliberately shot and killed the first such bear to visit the country in almost two hundred years. (See Cat Defender post of June 30, 2006 entitled "Cheap, Bloodthirsty Bavarians Mercilessly Gun Down First Brown Bear to Visit das Vaterland in 171 Years.")
Try as they may, the Bavarians do not have anything on murderous New Jerseyans who treat bears far worse. At the urging of the Fish and Game Commission and the state's Department of Environmental Protection, a six-day slaughter of black bears is scheduled to commence on December 6th. Over six-hundred bears were murdered in hunts that were held in 2003 and 2005. (See The Record of Hackensack, December 3, 2010, "Appeals Court Refuses to Halt Monday's Bear Hunt.")
In slimy New Jersey no animal or human is permitted under any circumstances to stand in the way of the greed of developers, homeowners, and those inveterate liars and killers who claim to be protecting wildlife. (See Cat Defender post of May 6, 2008 entitled, "National Audubon Society Wins the Right for Invasive Species of Shorebirds to Prey Upon Unborn Horseshoe Crabs.")
Moreover, it is a well established practice for zoos, museums, wildlife biologists, universities, and others to rake in a pretty penny by trafficking in the remains of exotic animals that they unjustly kill. (See Cat Defender posts of May 5, 2008 and May 21, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Chicago's Rambo-Style Cops Corner and Execute a Cougar to the Delight of the Hoi Polloi and Capitalist Media" and "Macho B, America's Last Jaguar, Is Illegally Trapped, Radio-Collared, and Killed Off by Wildlife Biologists.")
Having arrived at the Hauptstadt's celebrated penitentiary for totally innocent animals as an infant in September of 1968, it is believed that Mäuschen lived longer in captivity than any previous Ursidae. If she had been given a choice between a lifetime of incarceration and five years of freedom there can be little doubt that she would have chosen the latter. The animals, like all halfway intelligent individuals, prefer quality of life over longevity.
"Wir sind uns sicher, dass nicht nur die Zoomitarbeiter sondern auch viele Berliner diesen Bären nicht vergessen werden," is how curtly the zoo's propaganda machine dismissed Mäuschen's long service to it and the city on its web site two days after her death. (See "Ältester Bär im Zoo Berlin gestorben.")
As for eleven-pound, jet-black Muschi, little is known of her life before she wandered in off the street in 2000 and shortly thereafter was taken under the protective wing of Mäuschen. Although it is not known exactly why Mäuschen took such an immediate liking to her, it is theorized that she viewed her as a substitute daughter.
They soon were eating, sleeping, and sunbathing together and Mäuschen protected Muschi from her male counterparts who were intent upon doing her bodily harm from the outset. As an added bonus, the odd couple became immensely popular with both Berliners and tourists alike.
Zoologists from various countries arrived in order to observe the interaction between the cross-species friends. It is not known, however, if they subjected them to any form of either experimentation or manipulation.
It thus was Muschi's popularity with paying customers that more than anything else ensured that she would be permitted to go on living. Earlier in 1991, Blaskiewitz had rung with his own hands the necks of four other strays that had wandered into the compound. He may be a disgusting, sorry excuse for a human being but even his lust for feline blood is outweighed by his greed.
For whatever it is worth, the Berliner Zoo claims that it no longer indiscriminately kills homeless cats. Instead they are supposedly trapped, sterilized, and relocated elsewhere by Wolfgang Apel and his associates at the Deutscher Tierschutzbund of Bonn.
Beginning in October of 2007 and lasting until June of 2008 zoo officials unconscionably separated the two longtime friends while Mäuschen's quarters were being renovated. During that interim, Muschi would camp out in front of Mäuschen's stall and cry out for her friend and this eventually forced the zoo to relent and reunite them again. (See Cat Defender post of June 30, 2008 entitled "Berlin Zoo Reunites Old Friends Muschi and Mäuschen after a Brief Enforced Separation.")
As for Muschi, she still is sleeping and eating in Mäuschen's old lodging but that is unlikely to be tolerated for much longer with space at the crowded zoo being at a premium. Moreover, zoo officials are worried that the loss of her friend could cause her to stop eating and, albeit unlikely, become aggressive.
"So ein Verlust is für eine Katze nur schwer zu verkraften," Marcel Gäding of Tierschutzverein für Berlin told the Berliner Zeitung on November 20th. (See "Katze Muschi sucht einen neuen Bären.") "Immerhin gehören diese Vierbeiner zu den sensibelsten Tierarten."
Of even greater concern is the frightening reality that now with Mäuschen dead Muschi has lost her protector and is subject to predation by the zoo's other animals. Even worse, the zoo is contemplating pairing her with the polar bear Knut who skyrocketed to international fame in 2006 when he was raised by the institution's Thomas Dorflein after his mother had rejected him. (See photo of them together above.)
"Sie (Muschi) kann sich frei bewegen bei uns," the zoo's Heiner Klös told the Berliner Zeitung in the November 20th article cited supra. "Wenn ihr der Sinn danach steht, kann sie sich mit einem neuen Bären anfreunden."
Although Muschi is vaguely acquainted with Knut through her association with Mäuschen, pairing them together is a terrible idea that places her life in danger. This is due principally to the fact that Knut, who will celebrate his fourth birthday tomorrow, is a male and therefore highly unlikely to view her as anything but dinner.
The Berliner Zoo obviously is attempting to capitalize upon such as oddball arrangement as it did with Muschi and Mäuschen, but just because it worked with them does not necessarily mean that it will work with Muschi and Knut. The zoo has milked Muschi for all that she is worth and now it is time for it to do the humane and honorable thing and put her up for adoption.
She belongs with a loving family and not in a den with either a polar or Asiatic bear. Placed with the right family, she probably would live longer and perhaps be even happier than she was with Mäuschen. Considering her international fame, finding a home for her would be a piece of cake.
The usual hate-filled tirades that flow so freely from the maws of zoo officials, wildlife biologists, and bird advocates like raw sewage from a bloated septic tank consist almost exclusively of labeling cats as vermin that should be eradicated at all costs. Consequently, it is imperative that all of their dealings with the species are closely scrutinized.
Despite their abhorrent attitude, most zoos, wildlife rescue centers, and captive breeding facilities hold several cats hostage so that they can have a readily available source of free milk and blood. Most veterinarians do likewise. (See Cat Defender post of November 13, 2010 entitled "Christopher, Who Has Persevered Through Tragedy and Given Back So Much, Is Now Being Held Captive for His Valuable Blood.")
Since they require lactating cats for their schemes, the females that they maintain are not spayed and the toms are left intact which results in innumerable litters of kittens. No one is saying what happens to these kittens but it is suspected that they are similarly abused like their mothers and fathers if not killed outright.
Such arrangement are most definitely exploitative and, most likely, criminal as well. They furthermore add to the overpopulation of cats that already exists.
For example, at the Artis Royal Zoo in Amsterdam a cat named Gladys who had given birth to four kittens on June 27, 2008 was employed to nurse a red panda that had been rejected by its mother. Although the panda later died on July 17th, the zoo never has disclosed what became of Gladys's kittens.
At the Linton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, head honcho Kim Simmons back in 2008 assigned a former stray named Arnie the dangerous task of playing nursemaid to a six-week-old lioness named Zara. (See photo of them together above.)
Arnie would wash and groom Zara and the duo would snuggle and play together but even in her infancy she posed a significant threat to his well-being. (See Cat Defender post of July 24, 2008 entitled "Red Panda That Was Rejected by Her Mother but Later Adopted by a Cat Dies Unexpectedly at an Amsterdam Zoo.")
Carolina Wildlife Care, located outside of Columbia, South Carolina, also shanghais domestic females into nursing wild animals such as bobcats. Earlier this year, for instance, it saddled a gray cat named Zoe who also had just given birth to a litter of kittens with the perilous job of nursing a trio of orphaned bobcats for the first five weeks of their lives. (See photo below of her with her kittens and the bobcats.)
While that was occurring, another trio of orphaned bobcats was foisted upon an unsuspecting domestic cat named Bobbi to nurse at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. (See AOL News, April 30, 2010, "Bobcat Cubs Milk Attention from Adopted Moms.")
The naked exploitation and abuse of cats by zoos and wildlife groups must be immediately stopped. Not only do such institutions and individuals place the cats' lives in jeopardy but no group is monitoring either how they are treated or what happens to them once their gaolers have finished with them.
More to the point, considering their avowed hatred of the species, these groups should not be allowed to come within one-hundred-feet of any cat. That is especially true of cat-killing wildlife biologists.
The use and abuse of domestic cats is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as the crimes of zoos, wildlife centers, and captive breeding facilities are concerned. Most poignantly, for exotic animals such as Mäuschen to wind up in major cities like Berlin entails first of all that they had to have been forcibly removed from their families and habitats.
An inquiry therefore should be undertaken to determine if such trafficking is in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). If not, the Convention should be strengthened so as to prohibit it.
Secondly, all carnivores housed in these institutions must be fed meat which usually consists of live prey. At the Berliner Zoo, for example, sheep, goats, cows, and pigs are routinely fed to wolves.
In particular, on June 5, 2008 a live goat was taken from a petting zoo and fed to the wolves in front of the public. (See Der Spiegel, June 16, 2008, "Berlin Zoo Feeds Goat to Wolves.")
Domestic animals, already hideously abused in both the production of meat as well as the testing of weapons for the various military establishments around the world, certainly should not be fed to caged exotic animals. The same holds true for rabbits, mice, and other wildlife that are sacrificed in this brutal and inhumane manner.
Wild animals belong in protected habitats and not in zoos, captive breeding facilities, or as the playthings of wildlife biologists. If only half of the resources devoted to these exploitative enterprises were redirected toward protecting animals in the wild the alarming rate of anticipated extinctions possibly could be halted.
"Mäuschen wird im Zoo Berlin ewig Leben, sie kann gar nicht sterben," Dorflein boldly predicted a few years back. As things eventually turned out he not only was wrong about her but he himself succumbed to cardiac arrest on September 22, 2008. (See Cat Defender post of October 6, 2008 entitled "In Memoriam: Thomas Dorflein, 1963-2008.")
Now only Muschi and Knut remain from that once fabulous foursome. Even more worrisome, Muschi may not be alive much longer unless a vociferous public outcry forces the Berliner Zoo to better protect and treat her.
Photos: Die Welt (Muschi and Mäuschen), Berliner Zeitung (Muschi and Mäuschen share a tender moment), Deutschen Presse-Agentur (Dorflein and Knut), Sky News (Arnie and Zara), and National Public Radio (Zoe with kittens and bobcats).