Critically endangered species are among more than 100 animals that have died at Dublin Zoo in just two years.
Between 2014 and 2016 109 animals died at the zoo in the Irish capital – including a significant number of critically endangered species that are extinct or nearly extinct in the wild.
In 2015 alone Dublin Zoo lost 13.4 percent of its animal population, including a pair of Rothschild giraffes, which are one of the rarest species of giraffe, with only an estimated 1,500 left in the wild.
Among other animals that died during the 24-month period were a southern white rhinoceros, three grey wolves, and a red panda, reports Dublin Live.
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.
Documents submitted by Dublin Zoo to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of its licence application show that 13.4 percent of its animal population died in 2015.
The animals that died at the zoo during 2015 include a pair of Rothschild giraffes, which are one of the rarest species of giraffe, with only an estimated 1,500 left in the wild.
In 2014, two African hunting dogs were in Dublin on loan from another zoo. These are endangered with a population of around 6,000 left in the world. Both dogs died at Dublin 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 less than 12,000 of the penguins left in the wild due to climate change and overfishing.
Three red-tipped mangabeys – a red-list endangered species of monkey – also died at the zoo during the same year; while an African spurred tortoise, which can live for over 150 years, also perished.
A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said that the facility undergoes 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,” they 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.
Examples of deaths that occurred during 2014 and 2015:
- Two Rothschild giraffes (one male and one female), which are one of the rarest species of giraffe, with only an estimated 1,500 left in the wild.
- A southern white rhinoceros, of which there are only 20,000 left in the wild.
- Five African painted dogs. It is estimated that only 7,000 exist in the wild.
- Three white-tipped mangabeys – a red-list endangered species. Numbers have halved in the past 27 years.
- A Rodrigues flying fox – a bat listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Zoos have been trying to breed the bat in an effort to prevent extinction.
- A female grey wolf.
- Three Humboldt penguins – considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN as a result of climate change and overfishing. There are between 3,000 and 12,000 left in the wild.
- An African spurred tortoise – the third largest species of tortoise in the world. It is classed as vulnerable. It has an average lifespan of between 50 and 150 years although some live much longer.
- Three Eastern Pygmy Marmosets, representing half the population at Dublin Zoo. These are the world’s smallest monkeys, weighing just 100 grams.
- Four Asiatic lions, which are a red-listed endangered species.
- Four Waldrapp Ibis – a critically endangered heron, of which there are only 500 left in the wild and 1,000 in zoos.
- One Asian water dragon – a lizard that can grow up to one metre in length and can live for up to 15 years.
- A female red panda – an endangered species.
- Another scimitar-horned oryx (male).
- One Grant’s zebra – the smallest subspecies of zebra.
- Two African hunting dogs. The Zoo had two of these on loan. Both died. They are endangered with a current population of around 6,000.
- Two female grey wolves.
- 11 Chilean flamingos – two of which were on loan to Dublin Zoo.
- Five red-ruffed lemurs – a critically endangered species with a captive population of only around 500.
- Five Eastern Pygmy Marmosets.
- Two Sulawesi Crested Macaques – a critically endangered species of monkey.
- Six Asiatic lions.