Update 5/6/2012 – “Two dolphins who died a slow, agonising death at a zoo after it hosted a rave were probably killed by a party-goer’s heroin substitute, according to a leaked toxicology report. (Daily Mail)
Prosecutors said at the time that they were considering negligence charges because they believed antibiotics given by zoo vets were to blame for the deaths at Connyland in Lipperswil.
But another toxicology report carried out at the time, leaked to Swiss media, has raised new questions about what happened.
Tests conducted by the forensics institute in St Gallen found the heroin substitute Buprenorphin in the animals’ urine.
In November 2011, two dolphins were reported to have died following a Rave event held at Switzerland’s Connyland amusement park.
Now the toxicology reports are showing that the dolphins probably died due to the drugs that are routinely administered to these animals in captivity – drugs designed to ward off illness, but which damage the dolphins and shorten their lives.
The dolphins’ deaths were not kind or peaceful: Connyland keeper Nadja Gasser told local media: ‘The death was very drawn out and painful. The death went on for over an hour. It was horrendous. I have not been able to sleep since.’
The following information has been made available by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) on their captivity page:
There’s evidence now that the use of antibiotics in two dolphins (“Chelmers” and “Shadow”) in Swiss “Connyland” dolphinarium last November had caused brain damage which then led to their death afterwards.
This was revealed by an evaluation by an Institute for veterinarian pathology commissioned by the prosecution of Thurgau.
An investigation procedure against the two veterinarians that were vetting the dolphins is underway.
The dolphinarium had accused “fanatic” animal activists to have poisoned the dolphins in the press before.
WDCS has always been critical of the often intensive medicinal treatment of dolphins in zoos and entertainment parks.
“The prophylactic and highly dosed medicinal treatment is nothing unusual. Furthermore, also psychotropic drugs are willingly used to control aggressions or improve the cooperation during the shows. One question remains: Who is responsible for the side effects? The vet who’s doing what he’s learned to or the keeper who is in charge for the insufficient keeping conditions?” asks Dr. Karsten Brensing, conservation manager of WDCS in Germany.
It remains to be seen if the evidence will result in consequences for the keeping of dolphins in Connyland as well as other dolphinaria in Europe.
Or in the U.S., for that matter.