In the Basque Country, a retired farmer refuses to let go of Zaza, a rhea, animal of the ostrich family. The French Office for Biodiversity wants to remove him from the village where he has lived for more than 20 years to place him in a zoo.
Jean Sallaberry intends to fight to the end. This former farmer from Urt, in the Basque Country, has been raising a rhea – a species of the ostrich family – for 22 years.
But a procedure was initiated to separate him from Zaza, who had been bequeathed to him by his neighbors. The French Office for Biodiversity wants to place it in a zoo in Charente-Maritime, the species being classified as “wild, reputed to be dangerous”. It requires, according to the OFB, “an authorization given only if one can justify specific training and a parked installation”. The bird lives on a fenced plot of several hectares, surrounded by horses.
But for Jean, Zaza has so far caused no problems for Urt. And for him, the incomprehension is all the stronger since Zaza only has a few years left to live, the life expectancy of a rhea being 25 years.
He didn’t ask for anything, I ask that he live there.John Sallaberry
Source: France 3 Euskal Herri
Moved, he confides to live “very bad“the idea of being separated from this bird, with whom he has developed a real bond over time.”I pass at 7:30 a.m., the rhea will be there, at the gate. He waits for his bread, the evening rebelotte at 6:00. And then he leads his life in the field“, assures the retiree.
This is supported by several neighbors, like Eric Derouin. “I would like to ask the question to those who want to put it in a zoo, if they have elderly parents, who are independent, happy in their house. And all of a sudden we tell them: we put you in an EHPAD, locked up. That’s what we gonna do with that rhea“, he laments. For him, the animal “is part of the village“.
If he decides to keep Zaza, Jean Sallaberry risks a fine of 2,000 euros. A petition, which has already collected more than 1,000 signatures, has been launched so that the bird can end its days in Urt.
A court decision will be taken on September 10 as to the possible transfer of the animal.
In January 2022, it was a wild boar called Woody who hit the headlines because there too, the animal had to be removed from his mistress. Faced with the mobilization to return the wild boar, the prefecture of Lot-et-Garonne had announced that he was going to find Véronique. She had initiated proceedings before the administrative court to obtain the return of her little protege who had been taken from her, because considered a wild animal.