Favorite tourist spot Nara Park in Japan attracts visitors from all over the world for allowing them to feed, take pictures with, and walk among the city’s freely roaming deer.
However, it seems that the growing number of visitors each year is taking a toll on the lives of these wild animals.
According to a recent report from the Nara Deer Welfare Association, a number of deer are falling ill and dying from ingesting heavy amounts of plastic in recent months.
A veterinarian from the association claimed she spotted a sickly-looking deer near a temple who refused to eat. The deer, which was below the healthy weight range for its age, died the next day. An autopsy revealed that the deer has indeed eaten at least 3.2 kilograms worth of what is believed to be polyethylene bags.
Here’s what it looks like:
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) March 28, 2019
“Sometimes, garbage is found in the stomach of a weakened deer. However, it’s unusual to see such a large amount of it,” said Rie Maruko, the veterinarian who performed the autopsy, according to the Asahi Shimbun. “The deer was old, and it is possible she died of old age. But she was skinny and her fur was dull. Apparently, she couldn’t take in enough nutrition because her stomach was blocked by the plastic bags.”
Since March 2019, six out of the eight deer in total that passed away from unknown causes were found to have plastic bags in their stomachs.
The association has appealed to tourists to stop littering around the park and to avoid using plastic bags when roaming around with the deer. They have also developed eco-friendly “Otomo” bags made out of mosquito net fabric. They are sold in souvenir stores for 1,350 yen (PHP 656).
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) April 26, 2019
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