A number of critically endangered species were among 165 animals that died at Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in 2019.
Among the 74 animal deaths at Dublin Zoo were a southern white rhino, a grey wolf, and two critically endangered Sulawesi crested macaques.
A total of 91 animals died at Fota Wildlife Park in Cork during the same period, including three cheetahs, a giraffe and three eastern grey kangaroos.
There was a decrease of around 11% in the number of animals that died at Dublin Zoo compared to the previous year, although it followed a 57% spike in fatalities in 2018 which was blamed on adverse weather conditions.
However, there was a similar 11% increase in the number of animal mortalities at Fota Wildlife Park in 2019, and the overall number of deaths across both locations was the same as in 2018 at 165.
The animals that died at Dublin Zoo during 2019 included a Suntiger tarantula, which had been brought to the zoo after it was confiscated by Customs. “We don’t know what treatment or conditions this tarantula was exposed to before being handed into Dublin Zoo,” said a spokesman.
Both of the zoo’s Rodriguez flying foxes — an endangered species of bat — died during 2019, along with one of its two golden lion tamarin monkeys, which are also endangered with as few as 3,200 remaining in the wild.
Two critically endangered Sulawesi macaque monkeys — a male and a female — died at the zoo during the year. The mortalities also included one of the zoo’s two critically endangered turquoise dwarf geckos.
At Fota Wildlife Park, endangered animals that died during 2019 included a lion, an elongated tortoise, and a lion-tailed macaque. One of its three critically endangered axolotls also died, along with its only red-ruffed lemur, which is also critically endangered.
Both zoos are operated by the Zoological Society of Ireland.
A spokesman for Dublin Zoo said that the physical and psychological wellbeing of animals is their “number one priority”.
“Ensuring every animal lives out its life to the full is of paramount importance to Dublin Zoo,” he said.
He noted that 45 of the 74 deaths that occurred at Dublin Zoo in 2019 were neo-natal or young age. These included three primates born to first-time mothers that died within 30 days of birth.
“As in the wild, it is not uncommon for primates to lose their first offspring due to the inexperience of the new parents,” the spokesman explained.
Fota Wildlife Park did not respond to a request for comment.