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 December 6, 2002 

Repeated Tragedy: Another animal dies at Yerevan zoo

Another animal has died at the Yerevan Zoo.

On November 30, a puma was found dead after eating meat infected with anthrax, becoming the fifth animal to die in the past month. (A lion died two weeks ago, but zoo officials had documents that show its death was of illness not related to the poison.)

On November 8 ArmeniaNow reported the deaths of a silver puma, a serval and a lynx, all having died from eating meat infected with anthrax (see Deadly Diet).

A committee called by Yerevan mayor Robert Nazaryan investigated the deaths and recommended the dismissal of two top zoo officials.

News of the latest animal death was carefully controlled by authorities, but ArmeniaNow has learned that the puma died, like the first three large cats, because it was fed meat infected with the deadly poison.

Zoo director Sahak Abovyan has maintained that all possible measures are being taken to insure that the zoo's predator cats are being fed meat that has been carefully inspected and all areas of the zoo have been disinfected.

"I don't know why these incidents happen," Abovyan told ArmeniaNow. "I wouldn't exclude that somebody is trying to do harm to me. However, I assure you that everything is under control.

"It is pity that this incident took place, but we shouldn't be overly concerned."

Following the first deaths, Yerevan municipality promised that measures would be taken to insure proper treatment and care of animals, including bringing in specialists to monitor meat intake of the predators. But such actions have remained on paper and have not yet been implemented, including the dismissal of caretakers.

"We have no guarantee that this kind of incidents won't continue under careless management," says a municipality specialist, "and nobody can say what is going on in the promised disinfected zoo. But it is fact that today there is danger both for animals and children visiting the zoo every day."


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