Visitors often flock to Nara Park in Japan to interact with one or many of the wild deer that roam freely throughout the public park.
Generally the deer are friendly, but they are completely aware of the hands that feed them and can get aggressive when hungry.
Recently, the Nara Deer Welfare Association made an unsettling discovery. Deer are consuming an alarming amount of plastic and it’s killing them.
At the end of March, a 17-year-old deer was discovered unable to stand near Todaiji temple. Officials gave the doe food and water, though feeding was difficult.
According to reports, the deer weighed 66 pounds, which is 22 pounds below normal.
Unfortunately, the animal passed away the following morning.
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) June 29, 2018
Vets performed an autopsy on the animal and discovered something very upsetting. The deer’s stomach was practically full of plastic. The weight of what vets believed were plastic bags weighed seven pounds.
“Sometimes, garbage is found in the stomach of a weakened deer. However, it’s unusual to see such a large amount of it,” Rie Maruko, the veterinarian in charge of the autopsy, said.
While it’s possible the doe died from old age, vets believe the plastic in her stomach may have played a role. The death is still under investigation.
At least eight other deer have experienced similar deaths and of those eight, six were found to have had plastic in their stomachs.
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) March 28, 2019
Now, the Nara Deer Welfare Association is warning visitors to stick to feeding deer the animal-friendly senbei crackers, which are sold throughout the park and to be mindful of their garbage.
Instead of carrying plastic bags, visitors are encouraged to purchase an environmentally friendly bag or bring one of their own.
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) April 26, 2019
Please, please, please be careful what you feed to the protected deer at Nara Park. They are unable to tell the difference between food and plastic, and even just one little nibble here and one little nibble there can add up.
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