H5N1 kills Thai zoo leopard; Beijing Zoo stops feeding live chickens to tigers
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2004:
BEIJING–The avian flu H5N1 killed an endangered clouded
leopard on January 27 at the Khao Khiew Zoo in Chonburi province,
Thailand, environment minister Prabat Panyachatraksa confirmed on
February 13, after two weeks of rumors. The leopard was fed mainly
chicken carcasses. A white tiger also became ill, but recovered.
The Khao Khiew Zoo and four other leading Thai zoos closed
their bird exhibits several days earlier, after 36 pheasants, pea
fowl, and Siamese firebacks died at a rare bird menagerie in Suphan
Pin Lyvun, director of the Phnom Tamao zoo in Cambodia,
told the Melbourne Age that 56 wild birds had died there as of
February 15, and that the zoo had killed 400 parakeets after some of
them died mysteriously. The zoo thereafter closed its bird exhibits.
The death of the clouded leopard was soon followed by menu
changes at the Beijing Zoo–not well-appreciated by the first
observers. “Gone are the lions and tigers’ live chicken dinners,”
lamented the Malaysia Star on February 11, in translation from the
China Daily. The big cats were switched to a more natural diet of
raw beef and mutton, the Malaysia Star and China Daily reported.
Western zoo experts have for more than a decade urged Chinese
counterparts to stop feeding live animals to carnivores. Chinese
zoo directors, however, have seen live feeding as a gate
attraction, contrary to lessons learned by most U.S. and European
animal exhibitors generations ago, and have defended the practice by
insisting that live feedings keep predators mentally fit.