Special CR initiative from Knorr-Bremse Brazil: a new home for two wild "kitties"

As part of its regional Corporate Responsibility activities, Knorr-Bremse Brazil is committed to protecting and conserving the local wildlife. Thanks to a sponsorship, two wild ocelots are now receiving medical care and staying in a beautiful new compound, which is one of the largest rehabilitation enclosures for small felines in South America. The two furry patients will remain in these species-appropriate surroundings until they are fit for life in the wild again. By sponsoring the project, Knorr-Bremse is making a financial contribution to the Brazilian Mata Ciliar Association's nature conservation and animal welfare activities.

Animal welfare is particularly important to Knorr-Bremse Brazil, as employees at the company's site in Itupeva frequently encounter wild animals from the nearby rainforest on the edge of the Japi Mountains. Since the Knorr-Bremse site opened in 2013, birds of various species have been known to accidentally fly into the buildings, and small snake species and lizards frequently cross the site. From time to time, larger creatures such as armadillos and wildcats also stray onto the site.

Social commitment in Brazil: partnership with Mata Ciliar

So it happened in 2016, when a potoo (a nocturnal bird typically found in the region) flew unnoticed into the warehouses on the site and was trapped on a high platform for five days. When it was finally discovered, the local security team on site called the municipal council for help, but they would not send assistance. Why? They only deal with dangerous animals. Eventually the team were able to rescue the frightened bird on their own, using some equipment from the plant. The idea was to release it immediately, but during the rescue operation the colleagues on site noticed that the potoo was injured and could not fly. While searching where to bring the bird for medical attention, they came across Mata Ciliar, a local animal and environmental organization. Thanks to Matar Ciliar's support, after a few days of "in-patient care", the Potoo could be released back into the forest next to the Knorr-Bremse site.

Following the incident with the potoo, Knorr-Bremse Brazil was keen to actively support Mata Ciliar's future projects and thus make a long-term contribution to wildlife conservation in Brazil. That is why Knorr-Bremse has been part of the "Adopt an Animal" program since 2017, sponsoring two wild ocelots through Mata Ciliar. Gustavo Valdivia, who works in the area of health, safety and environmental protection at Knorr-Bremse Brazil, was delighted to take on the role of project manager for the partnership with Mata Ciliar: "As well as environmental protection being an essential aspect of my job, I personally feel very strongly about caring for our native animal species. Working with all the great people at Mata Ciliar is a lot of fun."

Wild animals such as potoos are not an uncommon sight for employees at Knorr-Bremse Brazil.
As well as environmental protection being an essential aspect of my job, I personally feel very strongly about caring for our native animal species.

Gustavo Valdivia – Environmental Analyst at Knorr-Bremse Brazil

Ro and Fer – wild names for two ocelots

Since the partnership between Knorr-Bremse Brazil and Mata Ciliar began, the two ocelots, a mother and daughter, have been living in the rehabilitation center of the animal and environmental protection organization. The two wildcats were given their current names shortly after the sponsorship began. Though the idea is admittedly slightly odd, they were lovingly christened "Ro" and "Fer" in tongue-in-cheek reference to Knorr-Bremse's two divisions. “Ro” and “Fer” are not only puns for the diminutive of common Brazilian names like “Rose” and “Fernanda”,"Ro" also stands for the Commercial Vehicles Division in Portuguese ("Rodoviário") and "Fer" for the Rail Division ("Ferroviário"). Since Itupeva in Brazil and the headquarters in Munich are the only Knorr-Bremse locations worldwide that unite the two divisions under one roof, and since both divisions are chipping in to finance the sponsorship, the idea of "Ro" and "Fer" was born. Even if they now have slightly wacky "pet names", the two ocelots would surely appreciate the meaning if they could understand it, since it serves as a reminder that Knorr-Bremse is giving them the chance to start a new life in the wild.

Ro and Fer - Knorr-Bremse employees have thought of the unusual names for mother and daughter.

A new enclosure for the two adopted critters

In February 2020, the time had finally come: thanks to donations from Knorr-Bremse, "Ro" and "Fer" could move into a newer and larger rehabilitation enclosure that optimally mimics their natural environment. The vegetation on the Mata Ciliar site near their original home offers perfect conditions for the injured animals to complete their rehabilitation. Trees have also been added to enrich their temporary habitat. Passionate Knorr-Bremse employees and their families also devoted their spare time to preparing the new enclosure. By helping to build and paint the walls and plant the trees, they made sure that the adopted animals would be given a really beautiful new home.

By spending their recovery time in this natural environment, largely isolated from humans, Ro and Fer will later find it easier to return to their natural habitat and find their way in the wild.

A colourful sign marks the entrance to the rehabilitation centre.

In these jungle-like enclosures, small felines feel perfectly at home.

Passionate Knorr-Bremse employees and their families also devoted their spare time to preparing the new enclosure.

Almost done! Thanks to a lot of helping handy, construction work was moving forward quickly.

The information board next to Ro and Fer's enclosure you can learn more about Ocelots.

It's done! Knorr-Bremse employees and their families were happy to help with the completion of the enclosures.

Volunteers of Mata Ciliar Association and Knorr-Bremse celebrate the completion of the new enclosure together.

Since 2017, the adopted animals have benefited from Knorr-Bremse's annual donation of 12,000 Brazilian real (around EUR 2,700). A one-time donation of EUR 10,000 was also made. This sum was received by Knorr-Bremse Brazil in 2018 as prize money for an internal Group award, the KB Value Award. A large proportion of the donations has gone towards creating the new enclosure. The project is backed by Oliver Erxleben, Managing Director of Knorr-Bremse Brazil: "It is a really beautiful and meaningful animal welfare initiative that perfectly fits our location. Here in Itupeva, where people and animals live in such close quarters, our financial support allows us to make a small contribution to conserving and protecting the local animals – in the case of our little furry friends Ro and Fer, we are even giving them a second chance in life.

For animal and environmental protection: Mata Ciliar

The Mata Ciliar Association is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to developing projects to preserve the native flora and fauna. It was founded in 1987 and is located just 12 kilometers from Knorr-Bremse's Itupeva site. Since 1997, Mata Ciliar has also operated the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a facility where injured wild animals are given medical care and support with a view to returning them to the wild. The animals are mostly victims of traffic accidents, forest fires, game hunting or electric shocks from fences. They are often placed in the care of the rehabilitation center by the police, fire brigade, Brazilian civil defense or similar institutions – in many cases they arrive with serious injuries. Thanks to the care provided by Mata Ciliar, more than 7,000 wild animals were rescued and successfully released into their natural habitat by the end of 2018.


KB Value Award

The KB Value Awards are presented annually to individual employees or teams who have performed outstandingly in terms of Knorr-Bremse's corporate values. A special prize is awarded for each of the five corporate values: Entrepreneurship, Technological Excellence, Reliability, Passion and Responsibility. From the entries submitted in 2018, a jury of experts, heads of divisions and the Management Board selected the "Tech+ Project Team" from Knorr-Bremse Brazil for the corporate value Responsibility. The team is committed to helping young people from socially disadvantaged families. The young people are given a training opportunity that lays the foundation for a future career while also opening up good opportunities to land a job at Knorr-Bremse in Brazil. Oliver Erxleben, Managing Director of Knorr-Bremse Brazil, accepted the award with great joy and pride from Julia Thiele-Schürhoff on behalf of the team.

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