• Germany's news in English
 

Berlin zoo head cagey over sexism allegations

Published: 21 Jan 2013 11:00 GMT+01:00

Blaszkiewitz, 58, could face the sack after writing "0,1" - used in zoos to denote female animals or breeding mares - in front of the names of women colleagues in an internal memo. The director, who claimed he was "being polite," did not use the equivalent "1,0" prefix for his male staff members.

The memo has unleashed a backlash among high-ranking Berlin senators and trade unionists which escalated over the weekend and culminated on Monday in a special meeting of the zoo supervisory board to discuss Blaskiewitz's future at the zoo.

"It's a clear case of discrimination. And I expect those in leadership positions to avoid and fight against discrimination in their own businesses," Berlin's state senator for women's affairs Dilek Kolat told Sunday'sTaggespiegel newspaper. "Those who act like this have disqualified themselves as leaders."

Blaskiewitz, who has headed East Berlin's Tierpark facility since 1991 and Berlin Zoo since 2007, has denied accusations of sexism and claimed that putting "0,1" in front of women's names was "not a term of disrespect."

"It's a concerted action against me," he told the paper. The "0,1" is often used for women colleagues in the zoo, he said, and "no one has ever complained before."

The director also stands accused of having insulted Green MP Claudia Hämmerling, whom he called "vicious" according to minutes of a staff meeting leaked to Berliner Zeitung newspaper in December.

In the same meeting, Blaskiewitz is said to have berated zoo staff for accepting Christmas bonuses despite not being Christians.

The zoo director has drawn fire in the past for his treatment of the zoo's animals - most famously he was accused of having neglected the zoo's star polar bear Knut - after the animal suddenly dropped dead in 2011.

And in 2008 Blaskiewitz admitted having killed four wild cats in the Tierpark facilities in 1991 after an inquiry into the disappearance of hundreds of animals in suspicious circumstances.

DPA/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:37 January 21, 2013 by DavyCrockett
You should always refer to women in the most polite possible terms - otherwise the bitches become moody and uncooperative.
14:40 January 21, 2013 by Dayzee
@DavyCrockett

Couldn't agree more. ;-)
15:58 January 21, 2013 by mobaisch
where is freedom of speech? :p
16:31 January 21, 2013 by sonriete
@DaveyCrockett

LMFAO

I can think of one person's photo in todays TheLocal that reminds me of a zoo animal; maybe a walrus, but I'm too polite to say which one. (hint, scroll up)
16:50 January 21, 2013 by raandy
Davy you sleeping on the sofa??-;)

Would this be discrimination had he used the 1,0 instead? It's a clear case of discrimination, they said, I am dubious about that.

Claudia H. maybe she is vicious at least toward him, can not say what he thinks with out a "politician" being offended, my my

I think this guy is being bashed.

He killed 4 wild cats in the tierpark,good for him, wild cats can be "vicious"

good luck and best wishes Bernie ,they appear to want to color you gone.
17:36 January 21, 2013 by sonriete
well, they caught him killing four wild cats, and so that's what he was forced to admit to, but hundreds more wild animals disappeared under suspicious circumstances... can't imagine who might have done that...
22:36 January 21, 2013 by wood artist
I guess the obvious question is why he needed to identify the gender of anyone in the first place. If' I'm talking about "Joe" or "Sally" or "Helmut" shouldn't using their name be enough ID? Unless there are two, and the name is gender ambiguous, I can't see the need for it. I agree this could be considered demeaning, although I don't pretend to know enough about German culture to say for certain. I just can't see the need for it in the first place.

wa
23:25 January 21, 2013 by DavyCrockett
Dear "wa",

Well, call me the village idiot if you wish, but from your "wa" name it's not very obvious to me whether you're a 0,1 or a 1,0.

I would only add, from the content of your scribe, I would bet Euro100 to a cold Würstl that you're a 0,1.

Davy
00:22 January 22, 2013 by AClassicRed
This director had no reason to differentiate between recipients of the message, male or female, name ambiguous or not, as it was ultimately irrelevant anyway just to pass along information or inform a group. If someone's name is Cindy Johnson, you don't need to use Miss or Mrs. or Ms. as you may not know. Just use the name. Why try to define their relationship let alone use a term that might very certainly be seen as demeaning by referring to someone outside their species.

Besides news media catching it up and hyping the story beyond all need, it is like so much of the country itself. So many often want and do conveniently (for them) rise up and BWAH! (Germans make this sound in outrage, if you've heard it, you'll know what I mean) at certain things they can do something about easily, yet sidestep, rationalize, make excuses not to action or pass it on to someone else for the hard topics that need to be taken care of ASAP.

This was a safe issue people can be involved on, and even attach their name to in protest. But on other issues, they definitely want to remain anonymous if they act at all, yet many never act to help anyone for anything. It's always someone else's task if it is a definite statement and position. You'd think they'd learned better. Well, unless you consider the latter day extreme right or leftists.
Today's headlines
Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son
Jeremiah Duggan. Photo: Justice for Jeremy

Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son

The family of a British student killed in Wiesbaden over 12 years ago made a fresh step towards justice on Thursday, after a London coroner disagreed with German authorities' belief that he killed himself. READ  

Property of the week
Property of the Week: May 22nd
Photo: Mr Lodge

Property of the Week: May 22nd

Modern and sophisticated: This week’s property combines classic architecture with chic furnishings to create an elegant and luxurious living experience. READ  

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence
The judge said, given his age, he was not the ideal candidate for therapy. Photo:DPA

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence

An 83-year-old man was handed a six month suspended sentence on Thursday after being caught carrying seven bags of heroin in Düsseldorf. READ  

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks
The dazzling colour of 2014's festival parade. Photo: Karneval der Kulturen

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks

This weekend Berlin will be lit up by the vibrancy and colour of the Carnival of Cultures, an annual four-day urban festival that celebrates the diversity of Germany's capital. Here are six things not to miss. READ  

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light
FC Bayern's first team in 1925, the year of the commemorative publication. Photo: Jewish Museum

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light

For decades the early history of FC Bayern München was forgotten, but FCB fans have re-discovered a book from 1925 documenting the club's founding moments. READ  

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA
Gerhard Schindler admitted that the BND had made mistakes in its handling of NSA requests. Photo: DPA

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA

The head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) told a special parliamentary committee on Thursday that his agency is 'dependent on' the American National Security Agency (NSA). READ  

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash
Photo: Polizei Bochum

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash

After a low flying drone crashed into the windscreen of a car on the Autobahn outside Bochum, police announced on Thursday they are looking for witnesses. READ  

Business confidence slack as growth slows
A worker puts the finishing touches to BMWs at the car producer's Regensburg, Bavaria production line. Photo: DPA

Business confidence slack as growth slows

German business confidence slipped fractionally from its previous high level in May, as the upturn in Europe's biggest economy continues, the Ifo economic institute said Friday. READ  

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape
Two fugitives on the run since Thursday. Photo: Polizei Kleve

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape

Police are searching for two fugitives in North Rhine-Westphalia after a young woman freed a man from custody as he was being taken to the doctor. READ  

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet
Angela Merkel with Francois Hollande and Alexis Tsipras in Riga. Photo: DPA

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held "friendly and constructive" debt talks with the leaders of France and Germany Thursday, but gave no sign of a breakthrough ahead of a crucial June deadline. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,748
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd