Barking deer disappearance led to murder, suicide

Barking deer disappearance led to murder, suicide

An albino barking deer that went missing from a zoo in Songkhla in February. Photo courtesy of Songkhla Zoo
An albino barking deer that went missing from a zoo in Songkhla in February. Photo courtesy of Songkhla Zoo

The disappearance of a rare albino barking deer in Songkhla Zoo led to tragedy when a top senior officer from the Zoological Park Organisation of Thailand (ZPOT) was shot dead at the zoo.

The killer was the zoo's senior veterinarian who later killed himself in his living quarters inside the zoo.

It is believed the main cause of the killings involved an order to set up a investigative panel to look into the missing deer. The gunman was under investigation.

ZPOT director-general Suriya Saengpong had travelled from Bangkok to Songkhla to get the process started. The gunman sprayed his body with bullets while he was having a personal conversation in a private room. Mr Suriya died at the scene. Some reports put down his death to a misunderstanding.

The Songkhla Zoo had filed a report to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment that one of two missing albino barking deer was eaten by a python. The ministry later set up a committee to clarify the claim. The result at that stage had not been revealed.

The investigative panel wanted to know whether the missing deer was not in fact taken by illegal wildlife trade activity at the zoo. Previously, a staff member was jailed for being involved in the smuggling of rare birds from the zoo.

The case prompted the ZPOT's board to agree to correct its database of wildlife animal populations in zoos nationwide to make it more up to date and transparent. The public can access that information as a guarantee of the organisation's transparency.

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