Animal Transport - a separate department of AIR FRANCE KLM Cargo - is one of KLM's specialties. KLM was the first airline ever to transport live animals. That was in 1924, when a bull named Nico was flown from Rotterdam to Paris. KLM is known as one of the best and largest animal transporters in the world. Zoo animals, livestock, horses, ornamental fish, dogs and cats, and some of the craziest animals you can imagine all go onboard. Most animals travel in the cargo hold of combination (passenger and cargo) aircraft, but some travel in a separate aircraft accompanied by specialized animal stewards. KLM even has a special hotel for all the animals.
Zoo Animals and Livestock
KLM has been treating zoo animals as its own pets for dozens of years. AIR FRANCE KLM Cargo transports hundreds of rhinoceroses, tigers, monkeys, and giraffes each year. The animals might come from Dutch zoos and have to travel to a zoo in Japan where they will find a new home. Before the flight, the animal stewards have to get a lot of things ready so the animals can travel comfortably and arrive in good shape. Larger zoo animals such as rhinoceroses are accompanied personally by one or more animal stewards. KLM also transports a wide variety of livestock all year long. These include pig, goats and baby chicks that have to travel to farms somewhere in the world.
Every year, AIR FRANCE KLM Cargo transports thousands of horses. These might be horses that were bought in the Netherlands and must travel to their new owner in the US, or show horses traveling to competitions like the Olympics. Before going onboard, the horses are loaded into a specially designed stall with anti-slip floors and no sharp edges. The horses remain in the stall throughout the trip so they don't get hurt. The stalls are also designed to let the animal stewards take proper care of the horses. The stalls are equipped with special loading doors to let the horses in and out easily. Horses are never allowed to travel alone. At least one KLM animal steward always accompanies them. They also always have someone they know along for the ride - the owner, the rider, a caretaker, or a vet.
Each year, KLM transports hundredthousands of ornamental and tropical fish, whether small tropical fish for aquariums or larger one for garden ponds. They travel in strong plastic bags filled with sufficient water and oxygen, something like the way you get a goldfish from the pet store to home. The plastic bags are packed in polystyrene foam boxes so they cannot be damaged during the trip and the fish arrive in good shape.
Dogs and Cats
KLM transports more than sixteen thousand dogs and cats around the world each year. Most are house pets following their owners on vacation or traveling to a new home. House pets are transported in a specially developed "sky kennel" - temporary "dog houses" made of plastic, equipped with sturdy doors. Dogs and cats are transported in a separate area and the crew can control the temperature there so it's never too warm or cold.