Koala and rare dove on zoos’ list of 900 deaths

The deaths included a female socorro dove, which is extinct in the wild. Picture: contributed
The deaths included a female socorro dove, which is extinct in the wild. Picture: contributed
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More than 900 animals died while in the care of Scottish zoos died last year, including several hundred rare creatures.

About 25 animals held in captivity by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) were put down on health grounds.

Some of the animals died within just weeks of birth, including some deemed to be under threat by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List.

These included a female socorro dove, which is extinct in the wild, four cotton-top tamarins and three visayan warty pigs, which are both endangered.

Also in the list was a crowned lemur, which is said to be a ­vulnerable species.

The figured revealed by the RZSS show that 856 animals aged 30 days or more died in 2016. Some 71 failed to survive past 30 days after birth.

The total number of deaths is up from around 700 in 2015.

The majority of the list was made up from deaths of the rare partula snail, which originates from the volcanic forested islands of French Polynesia.

RZSS said it looks after more than 8,000 creatures and insisted that the “vast majority” of those which died were from natural causes.

Elisa Allen, director of the charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals UK, said: “Even the best zoos can never meet all the unique environmental, nutritional, and social needs of the various species they imprison.

“The obscene amount of money zoos spend on buying, breeding and housing exotic animals could benefit so many more animals in the wild and go a long way towards addressing the root causes of animal extinction and endangerment; habitat destruction and poaching.

“Anyone who cares about helping animals should donate to programmes that protect them in their natural habitats.”

Other animals to die included Edinburgh Zoo’s first forest reindeer calf, which was put down after it was diagnosed with mobility issues, and the first ever koala to be born in the UK, which died after an illness.

Referring to the deaths of the partula snails, a spokesman for the RZSS said: “It is difficult to establish exact life expectancies and different subspecies tend to live for very different periods of time.

“The best estimates we have in captivity is about three to four years for the species we hold.”