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Komodo dragon dies at Indonesia’s ‘zoo of death’

February 2, 2014

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AP) — An endangered komodo dragon and a pregnant barking deer have been found dead in the latest animal deaths in Indonesia’s largest and problem-plagued zoo, a spokesman said Sunday.

Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said a 7-year-old giant lizard was found dead Saturday in his cage at the zoo in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city and the provincial capital of East Java. A day earlier, a pregnant barking deer died shortly after a visitor reported to a zookeeper the animal was having convulsions and was foaming at the mouth.

Supangkat denied any negligence, and said a police forensic team was performing autopsies as part of an investigation to determine the cause of deaths.

The death left the Surabaya zoo with 57 komodo dragons, the world’s most critically endangered that are thought to number about 2,500 in the wild, primarily on the eastern Indonesian islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca.

The facility that houses 3,500 animals has long been plagued with problems, including premature deaths, uncontrolled breeding and a lack of funding. An online petition has called on the government to close the facility, dubbed “the zoo of death.”

Last month, an African lion was found hanged on a steel cable inside its cage and the zoo’s sole female wildebeest died of a suspected stomach problem due to hot weather and humidity.

The zoo has been criticized over the deaths of scores of animals, including another African lion and a Sumatran tiger, over the last few years. The death of a giraffe two years ago with a beach ball-sized wad of plastic food wrappers in its belly sparked outrage among conservationists.

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