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International Forwarding Association Blog » Intermodal transport in Europe » Transporting Animals to Zoos and Aquariums
Challenges to Shipping Zoo Animals

Transporting Animals to Zoos and Aquariums

Transporting wild animals to zoos and aquariums requires good collaboration to ensure that they are moved as stress-free and fast as possible. This requires extensive planning that sometimes takes months on a row as to obtain the necessary permits, arrange transport, and coordinate all steps with supervisors, trainers, and veterinarians.

Modes of Transportation

Watkins Rogers at AZA Animal Transport for Animal Care Professionals explains that the most humane and fastest way to ship zoo animals is by air as they are kept in crates. Some animals, however, require specialized transportation, as is the case with rhinos and venomous species. Some carriers also organize chartered services to move wild species to their destinations. Setting cabin pressures at adequate levels is also important so that animals adjust to high altitudes. The standard practice is to ship crates in the forward holds where pressure and air temperature are similar to what flight decks maintain.

Transporting Animals to Zoos and Aquariums

Challenges to Shipping Zoo Animals

The challenges involved in transporting wild species depend on distance, age, and type of species. Giraffes, for example, are usually shipped in crates and containers that are custom made. When moved by road, freight forwarders use trailers that are fitted with adjustable roofs. Lions also offer specific challenges because they are dangerous animals, and some carriers choose to move them by land and not by sea. Custom vehicles can be used that are specially fitted with shock and suspension absorbers. Aquarium species also present specific challenges, including seals, whales, and killer whales. According to curator of marine birds and mammals for Mystic Aquarium Laurie Macha, everything required to move wild species is custom made. What is more, the mixing of animal species is not allowed, for example, transporting rhinos and marine mammals. Some shipments also require intermodal logistics which is the case with aquarium animals. While they are moved by air, planes land at airports and not aquariums, and containers are then transported by trucks. Specialized equipment is also used at airports and onboard planes, including forklifts, flatbeds, and straight box vans. Trucks are fitted with thermometers and cameras to track air temperature and monitor animals.

Protection of Animals during Transport

According to Council Regulation (EC) 1255/97 when animals are shipped over long distances, they must rest at control posts for 12 hours or longer. Such posts must meet all hygiene and safety criteria and comply with operational rules and building standards. Measures span a variety of activities related to unloading and loading equipment, animal litter, bedding, and the treatment of transported species. Control posts must also comply with acting animal health legislation and are subject to regular inspections. They serve to dispatch, care for, rest, water, and feed animals.

When transporting animals within EU, all carriers must carry documentation that is required under Council Regulation (EC) 1/2005. Shippers are asked to specify expected duration of journey, place of destination, time and date of departure, place of departure, ownership, and origin.