While the silly news last year about a Chinese zoo trying to pass a dog for a lion made headlines around the world, the story this time is a lot more disturbing. A zoo in Xiamen (also known as Amoy) on the southeast coast of China reported earlier this week that one of its male fallow deer had suddenly died. As if its death wasn’t already tragic enough, upon conducting an autopsy, workers were surprised to discover the unexpected cause of death, something that could easily have been prevented. Keep reading to learn the unfortunate details.
*WARNING: Slightly graphic image to follow.
You may be thinking that the deer was killed by an escaped predator in another part of the zoo, or that its food was accidentally poisoned somehow. However, the actual cause of death is even more disturbing because of how easily it could have been prevented. When a veterinarian dissected the corpse, he was shocked to remove four kilograms of plastic bags and garbage from the deer’s stomach, presumably thrown away by public visitors to the zoo. The markings on the bags had mostly disintegrated, but it was clear that they were of various sizes and from all different kinds of stores.
Obviously, ingesting four kilos of garbage is not healthy for anyone under any circumstances, but it was an especially lethal act for the deer. Deer are one of several mammals that chew their cud, along with cows and sheep. This process, also known as rumination, helps the animals digest nutrients in plant-based foods. First, an animal lets bacteria break down the food in a special stomach, then regurgitates it and chews the cud again before fully digesting it. The accumulation of so many bags inside the deer’s stomach made it unable to both regurgitate, digest, and ingest new food, resulting in its death.
▼Results of the deer’s autopsy showing the buildup of plastic bags found in its stomach
Alarmingly, zoo workers found that the dead deer’s mate was also displaying several similar symptoms such as loss of appetite. She will undergo surgery to check the contents of her stomach.
This same pointless tragedy had apparently also occurred six years ago. After this recent death, zoo workers have placed a sign near the entrance to the herbivores area with the above graphic stressing to the public that all forms of garbage are dangerous for animals. Hopefully people will learn to take responsibility for their trash and prevent further needless deaths of the animals.