Japan’s Nara Park is definitely one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions where visitors can feed, pet and take pictures with the friendly deer. However, it looks like these animals are suffering from serious health complications.
In a report by the Washington Post, 9 deer at Nara Park have reportedly died between March and June 2019 from consuming plastic bags.
According to the Nara Deer Preservation Foundation, 9 of the 14 deer that have died since March had large tangled masses of plastic litter in their stomachs. The heaviest amount of plastic retrieved from one of the deer’s stomachs weighed 4.3kg.
The affected deer were reportedly so skinny, a veterinarian from the preservation foundation said that he could feel their bones.
The preservation foundation also shared a photo of the plastic found in one of the deer’s stomach, along with a link to their blog post about the importance of not littering in Nara Park.
— 一般財団法人奈良の鹿愛護会 (@nara_aigokai) March 28, 2019
A translated excerpt from their blog post reads,
“If plastic bags are inside the deer’s stomach, its digestive tract will be blocked and will not move no matter how much food the deer eats. One dead deer weighed less than 30kg.”
“Unfortunately, we often see trash being thrown away in Nara Park. There are no trash cans, so there are people who throw away plastic bags that still have food in them. The deer eat these plastic bags because they smell like food.”
“Please do not litter in Nara Park and bring your trash back with you.”
The park is home to the Sika deer, a species that is considered Japan’s national treasure. These deer are also protected by law, according to BBC News.
Tourists who visit Nara Park can feed the deer sugar-free crackers they can purchase from nearby shops. However, while these crackers are not sold in plastic bags, many tourists still carry them when feeding the deer, which is why these animals may associate plastic bags with food and eat them.
If you plan on visiting this park on your next holiday, please be sure to properly dispose of your trash to protect the deer!
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