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May 26, 2015

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Death of deer prompts appeal from zoo

SHANGHAI Zoo yesterday issued a fresh appeal to visitors not to feed the animals after three of its fallow deers died from eating garbage.

The first of the animals died on May 9, followed by a second last Wednesday and a third the day after, zoo official Pan Xiuwen told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“When we carried out the autopsies we found more than 6 kilograms of foreign matter in each of the deer’s stomachs. They would have been in a lot of pain in their final days,” she said.

“Herbivores can’t tell the difference between food and plastic bags, especially if the bags have food inside,” Gui Jianfeng, the zoo’s vet was quoted as saying in a report by Xinmin Evening News.

“Deer, as ruminant animals, have four stomachs and a complicated digestive system that can easily become obstructed,” he said.

Pan told Shanghai Daily that the animals that died had lived in the “African Herbivores” section with three other fallow deer, two emus and an alpaca.

“It is one of our open areas, which means visitors can get really close to the animals,” she said.

“The problem is that in such an environment it’s very hard to keep an eye on every visitor and every animal. The place gets littered with empty yogurt pots and other waste, some of which inevitably end up in the animals’ stomachs,” she said.

According to the zoo, 14 mammals — all of them herbivores — and three birds, have died since 2006 as a result of eating the wrong things.

“The zoo provides each animal with a balanced and tailored diet,” Pan said.

“So we appeal to people not to feed them or throw things into their enclosures,” she said.


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