A deer at the Haiceng wildlife park, a tourist spot in Xiamen, Fujian province, died after ingesting some four kilograms of plastic packaging that was left by visitors at the park, provincial officials said this week.
Global Times reports that when vets examined the deer, they found four kilograms of plastic, including food and beverage packaging, in its stomach.
An identical tragedy occurred six years ago. The fallow deer is a ruminant, vets told the Xiamen-based Haixi Morning Post, meaning the bags could not be chewed up or excreted from the intestine.
Plastic accumulates until the stomach is blocked and the deer dies. It was unclear in the report why staff did not notice or monitor the issue.
A female fallow deer will have surgery for an obstructed stomach “soon,” the report said. The park has erected a 3-meter-tall sign, “For animals, plastic bags are murder weapons,” to remind tourists of their responsibilities.
Garbage carelessly left behind by visitors at national parks has long posed as a threat to animals’ livelihood, as was highlighted in 1996 when a giraffe died at the Shanghai Zoo after swallowing plastic bags littered by tourists. Still, just months ago, employees at the zoo had to ask tourists to “show some mercy to the animals” after over 70 plastic water bottles were thrown into the lion enclosure and the animals were left to dwell in the piles of garbage for hours as cleaning staff could only access the dens once a day.
While it remains a global issue, it hardly helps that China’s tourists haven’t got the the greatest track record when it comes to respecting cleanliness in public parks.