Last week, Tallinn Zoo's children's area was hit with a sad loss when Libelle, the oldest of the zoo's indigenous Kihnu sheep was killed. The next night, trail cameras uncovered the culprit: a timid jackal has been sneaking around in the area behind the pasture.
"We must catch this self-starter to prevent similar troubles from recurring. The first suspicion of jackals in the zoo's nature areas comes from the spring, when strange pawprints were spotted in the snow, but the animal was not caught on camera. A picture of the jackal in the vicinity of the Open Air Museum in May pointed to the possibility that he could settle in our nature areas. Their biota is rather versatile - stoats, weasels, martens, badgers, wild goats and hares," Tallinn Zoo director Tiit Maran wrote in a press release on Monday.
Regularly natives of southeastern Europe and other equatorial areas, golden jackals have significantly extended their spread in the last decades with the northernmost sighting in northern Norway. Their presence in Estonia was first proved in 2013.
Estonia does not have any previous experience with catching jackals, which means the zoo will begin testing different methods. "If we can catch the jackal and can find resources for the construction of a proper enclosure, they could become a permanent resident in our collection so that visitors could also meet this exciting animal. An enclosure would cost an estimated €15,000-20,000," Maran noted.
Until the jackal is captured, the Kihnu sheep have been sent to a pasture behind the bird ponds, surrounded by an electric fence. Zoo visitors should not fear the jackal, as they are mostly nocturnal animals and are scared of humans.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste