• Germany edition
 
Berlin zoo head cagey over sexism allegations
Photo: DPA

Berlin zoo head cagey over sexism allegations

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

Long-time Berlin Zoo director Bernhard Blaszkiewitz, who referred to women colleagues using the zoo shorthand for a female animal in a memo, fought to keep his job on Monday as the zoo supervisory board met to discuss his future.

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)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

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
Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112
Gertrud Henze. Photo: DPA

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112

Germany’s oldest woman died at the age of 112 on Tuesday. Gertrud Henze was born on December 8th 1901 and joked her long life was down to never getting married. READ () »

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent
Police search the area near where Gabriele's body was found in October 2013. Photo: DPA

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent

The alleged murderer of an exchange student in southern Germany stayed silent in the dock on Tuesday on the first day of his trial. READ () »

European Elections 2014
'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Hans-Olaf Henkel (r) celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AfD with leader Bernd Lücke. Photo: DPA

'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'

In an interview with The Local, one of the leaders of Germany's eurosceptic party talks about Europe's future, why Britain is a model country and why he will not work with UKIP's Nigel Farage. READ () »

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire
Nane, with her father and a picture of the cartridge-laden wood. Photo: DPA

Girls find live munition in Easter bonfire

Two 12-year-old German girls found live ammunition lodged into a branch in an Easter bonfire. It was due to be lit the next day, potentially igniting the cartridges and causing disaster. READ () »

Opinion
'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'
Photo: DPA

'Fracking won't save Germany from Putin'

Germany's reliance on Russian gas continues to limit the nation's diplomatic leverage in the Ukraine crisis. But as leaders once again explore fracking as an alternative, critics told The Local the risks were too high. READ () »

German rapper-turned-jihadist 'killed in Syria'
Deso Dogg. Photo: YouTube screenshot

German rapper-turned-jihadist 'killed in Syria'

UPDATE: A German former rapper who joined jihadists fighting in Syria was reported dead on Tuesday by jihadist sources, but hours later some retracted the claim, saying he was still alive. READ () »

Have Your Say
Who should pay for Germany’s roads?
Photo: DPA

Who should pay for Germany’s roads?

A top politician's suggestion that drivers should be charged €100 a year towards the upkeep of Germany's roads was met with derision on Tuesday. But how should Germany fill the black hole it its infrastructure budget? READ () »

Tax income hits March record
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Tax income hits March record

A record amount of cash flowed into German government coffers in March thanks to land, beer and incomes taxes, a monthly report from the finance ministry revealed on Tuesday. READ () »

Union bosses call for later starts in World Cup
Photo: DPA

Union bosses call for later starts in World Cup

German unions called on Tuesday for shift workers to be granted later starts during the football World Cup in Brazil this summer. Some of the matches begin at midnight due to the time difference. READ () »

Parents' house burnt as son went clubbing
Photo: DPA

Parents' house burnt as son went clubbing

A man who had thrown a party at his parents' empty mansion over Easter in central Germany returned after clubbing to find the entire building on fire. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

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

3,050
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd