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Zoo Animals

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for South Shields of 25 June, Official Report, column 28, how many animals in zoos have died of spongiform encephalopathies; if he will list the species involved, the zoos concerned and the date detected in each case; and if he will make a statement.

Spongiform encephalopathies have been confirmed in five antelope in British zoos:

  • — a nyala, died June 1986
  • — a gemsbok, died June 1987
  • — an Arabian oryx, died March 1989
  • — a greater kudu, died August 1989
  • — an eland, died December 1989
A scientific paper published in 1980 reported the occurrence between 1974 and 1979 of chronic wasting disease, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, in 63 mule deer, one black-tailed deer and one mule deer crossed white-tailed deer in two wildlife parks in the United States of America. A paper published in 1982 reported the occurrence of the disease in six Rocky mountain elk in the same two wildlife parks.A spongiform encephalopathy was confirmed in four white tigers which died or were killed in Bristol zoo between 1970 and 1977. Experimental inoculations of brain material from the tigers gave no indication that the disease is transmissible.