A deer has died with 4 kilograms of plastic in its stomach according to a report from the Nara Deer Welfare Association.
Vets from the association told how they saw a poorly looking deer near Todaiji temple in Nara Park in Japan on March 23. Despite their best efforts to feed the severely weak deer, she refused to eat. The next day, the 17-year-old female deer died weighing just 30 kilograms.
When vets performed an autopsy on the animal, they found her stomach was nearly entirely filled with hardened plastic thought to be made up of polyethylene bags. The weight of the mass in the deer’s stomach weighed 3.2 kilograms.
In the report, vets explain how the accumulation if plastic bags inside the deer’s stomach made it impossible for her to regurgitate, digest and ingest new food, which ultimately led to her death.
Eight deer with unknown causes of death have been autopsied, six of which were found to have plastic in their stomachs – the largest of which weighed 4.3 kilograms.
There are clear signs around Nara which tell visitors they should not feed the deer anything but senbei, however there have been sightings of tourists holding out plastic bags full of food for the deer to eat and even cases where deer bite into plastic bags being carried by tourists.
Deer will eat plastic as they’re unable to tell the difference between the synthetic material and food, often mistakenly believing both are edible. Visitors are therefore reminded to take their litter with them.
In a bid to prevent deer from eating the fatal plastic, the Nara Deer Welfare Association has now developed a special environmentally friendly bag made from natural materials.
Sadly, it isn’t just animals living on land who are suffering at the tragedy of plastic, as a young sperm whale was recently found dead on a beach, with a stomach full of the stuff.
Greenpeace Italia shared eye-opening photos of the young sperm whale, which had washed up on the beach at Cefalu, a popular tourist destination in Sicily.
The animal was estimated to be around seven years old, and its stomach was full of plastic bags and other plastic objects. Sperm whales usually live for around 70 years.
An investigation is underway regarding the animal’s death, and that it is not yet clear whether the whale died from swallowing the plastic.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.