Wednesday 26 April 2017

More than 100 animals died at Dublin Zoo in last two years, including endangered species

Dublin Zoo lost two of its rare Rothschild giraffes in 2015
Dublin Zoo lost two of its rare Rothschild giraffes in 2015

Darragh McDonagh

More than 100 animals died at Dublin Zoo during a two-year period between 2014 and 2016, it can be revealed.

The dead animals include a significant number of critically endangered species that are extinct or nearly extinct in the wild.

Among the 109 animals to die at the Zoo during the 24-month period were a southern white rhinoceros, two Rothschild giraffes, three grey wolves, and a red panda.

The 68 animals that died in 2015 included seven that were temporarily on loan from other zoos.

Details of the animal deaths at one of the State's most popular visitor attractions are contained in inventory records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The revelation follows reports that a zoo in Cumbria, England, was refused a new licence last week after 486 of its animals died during a four-year period, representing an annual death rate of around 12pc.

Documents submitted by Dublin Zoo to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of its licence application show that 68 died in 2015 from the population of 508 - representing 13.4pc.

In 2014, 41 died from the 470 population - representing an 8.72pc death rate.

The animals that died at the zoo during 2015 include a pair of Rothschild giraffes, which are one of the rarest species of giraffe.

In 2014, two African hunting dogs were in Dublin on loan from another zoo.

Three scimitar-horned oryxes, a species of antelope that has been extinct in the wild for almost 20 years, died at the zoo during the 24-month period.

Three Humboldt penguins - considered "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - died in 2015. There are fewer than 12,000 of the penguins left in the wild.

Three red-tipped mangabeys - a red-list endangered species of monkey - died at the zoo during the same year; while an African spurred tortoise also perished.

A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said the facility underwent rigorous inspections each year, and that the latest inspection by the NPWS resulted in a number of positive comments in relation to habitat design, staff, and other areas.

"Animal care and wellness is at the core of Dublin Zoo. The physical and psychological wellbeing of animals in our care is the number one priority, ensuring every animal lives out its life to the full is paramount to Dublin Zoo.

"However, as in the wild, animals die in Dublin Zoo. In every situation the best of veterinary care and attention is given. We mourn the loss of every animal," the spokesperson said.

"Every zoo varies in size and species, as such there is no standard zoo mortality rate.

"Variables that preclude the calculation of a standard zoo mortality rate include whether a large proportion of the animals have long natural lifespans . . . or shorter lifespans.

"The age of the animals also differs greatly."

The inventory figures analysed include mammals and reptiles but exclude insects, of which there may be large, approximate numbers and shorter lifespans.

Separately, a number of zoos across Europe have stepped up security measures following the brazen killing of a rhinoceros at a wildlife park near Paris.

A zookeeper found the rhino dead with gunshot wounds to the head, his horn had been removed by a chainsaw. The horn is valued at nearly triple the price of gold.

Irish Independent

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