KARACHI, March 18: Three white and a fallow deer have died recently at the Karachi Zoological Gardens, Dawn has learnt.

According to sources, two female white deer with a male of the same species and a male fallow deer died this month at the zoo. One animal died in a fight while another one after consuming a plastic bag, the sources added.

Upon contact, Abida Raees, deputy director of the zoo, confirmed only three deaths.

She said: “One female white deer died after suffering injuries in a fight while the other female of the same species died due to excessive mating.”

A fallow deer, she said, died due to “impaction of the rumen”. She, however, couldn’t explain what caused the digestive problem which resulted in the animal’s death.

Replying to a question about the death “due to excessive mating”, she said that it’s a normal phenomenon among animals and that the cause of death was confirmed by a post-mortem report. “I don’t remember the exact age of the animal, but what I can say for sure is that she was very young and not at the right age for mating.”

When Dawn contacted senior wildlife experts to know about “excessive mating” phenomenon which could possibly result in a death, they said they had never heard of it, nor ever came across a case in which an animal had died due to increased sexual activity.

Animals, they said, often had multiple mates, but male species were attracted to female species only when they exhibited sexually receptive behaviour which was an indication of their reproductive maturity.

Giving his opinion as a veterinarian, Dr Masood Rabbani, head of the diagnostic laboratory, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, said that even if someone accepted the version of “excessive mating”, the animal could never suffer a sudden death which led to the question why immediate care was not provided to the bleeding animal.

“A possibility exists that the animal might have died of huge loss of blood. But ‘death by excessive mating’ is not a common phenomenon. There is a dire need to collect more details about the incident, for instance, the age of the animal and, most importantly, the time when the incident occurred.

“Besides, one should have information about the keeper and the behaviour the [involved] animal exhibited later.”

A case of bestiality? He said the case must not be hushed up as it could be an incident of bestiality, which, he added, could be easily verified by samples taken during a post-mortem examination.

It needs to be mentioned here that the zoo is faced with an acute shortage of trained staff while there has been no accountability of officials involved in mismanagement and incidents of negligence in the past.

A much publicised case is of the lion cubs’ death in which no FIR has yet been registered, though seven months have passed after the incident.  In August last year official negligence claimed the lives of four lion cubs which were barely five days old. Three of them were found dead in their cages while the fourth one went missing the same day.