Tayto Park confirms 30 out of 377 animals died at its zoo in 2016
Tayto Park has revealed that 30 animals died at its zoo in one year after it had initially asked a government department not to release the figures.
A park official wrote to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht last year objecting to the information being released and citing concerns over negative publicity.
Yesterday, however, the park, in Ashbourne, Co Meath, released a statement revealing that 30 animals died in 2016 out of a population of 377. This represented a mortality rate of 7.9pc.
Among the animals that died were chickens, rabbits, pheasants, sheep, pygmy goats, partridges, a goose, a hawk, a meerkat and three pot-bellied pigs named Toot, Puddle and Pumbaa.
"Our beloved bald eagle Arnold battled myositis (muscle inflammation) with the best of care but very sadly he passed away," said the park.
"An infection saw us lose two of our much-loved Goeldi's and tamarin monkeys, but the round-the-clock care of our dedicated team of keepers and vets meant that we saved the remaining group."
A Goeldi's is a marmoset that lives in the upper Amazon basin region while a tamarin is a squirrel-sized monkey from the South American rainforest.
Tayto Park said the mortality rate of 7.9pc "was not related to any shortcomings in the care and husbandry that we provided".
"Unfortunately, death is inevitable for creatures great and small, and despite our best efforts, so it was at Tayto Park."
Park officials said that in the past, releasing figures on animal mortality rates at zoos had "resulted in coverage which we believe was out of context".
"While positives of new births, arrivals and breeding successes were noted, there was no consideration given to natural lifespan, age or biology when considering the death of an animal.
"That was frustrating for us and upsetting for our keepers, veterinarians and managers.
"The animals they care deeply about are far more than numbers and statistics to them."
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is responsible for inspecting and licensing zoos. In October 2012, it ordered Tayto Park not to introduce any new animals for five months until it had complied with a number of conditions.
This followed a report from inspectors who highlighted a number of "inadequate" enclosures and "high levels of aggression and stress among animals".
The ban was lifted when the NPWS was satisfied that staffing levels and staff training had been improved.