'Snake ate deer' tale has minister hissing
The Natural Resources and Environment Minister has demanded authorities clarify the status of a one-year-old albino barking deer that went missing from a zoo in Songkhla in February, after the zoo on Thursday said the creature had been eaten by a snake.
Varawut Silpa-archa said he has ordered an investigation into the case.
"We don't know whether it is still alive or dead. But we will know a week after the investigation is completed. If any wrongdoing is found, the zoo director must take full responsibility," he said, adding that all zoos under the ministry are right now launching tighter security measures to prevent rare animals from going missing.
Isra News Agency reported on Thursday that the young male albino barking deer has been missing since February.
At the time, a fact-finding committee was set up with three hypotheses: the young animal was harmed by other animals; it slipped out of the zoo; or it was taken from the zoo. The official conclusion was that it might have been taken out of the zoo.
Up until Thursday, there had been no progress on the case.
Then, the director of Songkhla Zoo, Chalermwut Kasetsomboon, said that he had obtained photographic evidence that the albino barking deer was eaten by a snake, with the conclusion confirmed by a vet.
The albino barking dear was born in December last year at the zoo. Its pedigree traces back to a deer that a local villager presented to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother as a gift.
Her Majesty later gave the deer to Dusit Zoo. It later reproduced and some of the offspring were given to other zoos, including Songkhla Zoo.