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High animal death rate at zoos in Taipei and Kaohsiung

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Local media reported recently that both Taipei Zoo (臺北市立動物園) and Shoushan Zoo (高雄市壽山動物園) in Kaohsiung have recorded high death rates in their animal populations.

Reportedly, People First Party Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) has cross-referenced records in both zoos to reveal that Taipei Zoo currently possesses 2,669 animals, with 492 deaths recorded in the last five years.

Chen also revealed that Shoushan Zoo currently possesses 1,300 animals, with 119 deaths in the last four years. The dead animals, reported Chen, include a number of endangered species, including two 6-year-old Taiwanese leopard cats that perished from respiratory and circulatory system diseases. Shoushan Zoo also reported 37 deaths in the protected species population, Chen stated, including the killing of one Formosan black bear by another.

Chen allegedly questioned the professional management at both zoos, and said that the zoos currently focus most of their resources on celebrity animals, which results in the neglect of others.

Using Taipei Zoo as the example, in her report Chen claims that the zoo spends NT$4 million annually to feed three celebrity animals: giant pandas, koalas and the king penguins. The result, stated Chen, is the deaths of five olive baboons from malnutrition-related diseases. Other deaths of endangered species not from natural causes include three Bengal tigers, eight Swinhoe's pheasants and three koalas, Chen reported.

Taipei Zoo Response to Legislator's Report

Taipei Zoo spokesman Eric Tsao (曹先紹) reportedly responded to the legislator's statements by stating that some of the animals have a very short lifespan.

In the case of the Bengal tigers, stated Tsao, most are adopted from a joint program with the Council of Agriculture of the Executive Yuan. The program, entitled Asylum for the Injured Project, adopted several abandoned tigers from circuses that had toured Taiwan.

Animals from the project, said Tsao, would have died within two months if it weren't for the zoo, such as a rescued sun bear from Chiayi. Tsao rejected criticisms of animal mortality rates, stating that causes of death should be considered before any accusations are made.

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