A fireworks display is believed to have caused the death of a baby zebra born at the start of UK’s first Covid lockdown.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Clevedon, England, announced Hope the zebra died following fireworks displays on November 4.
The zoo, which is temporarily closed due to Covid restrictions, explained on Facebook it is believed Hope was “spooked” by the loud bangs of the fireworks.
“It appears that the fright caused her to bolt and she collided with the boundary of the enclosure,” Noah’s Ark Zoo explained.
“The post-mortem has revealed that this sudden impact caused her immediate death.”
Managing Director of the zoo, Larry Bush, said in a press release staff were “devastated” following the death of Hope.
“She was so full of energy and life and she was a very healthy young zebra,” Mr Bush said.
“It is such a tragedy that she has lost her life, seemingly as a result of fireworks being set off at nearby events which were intended as a celebration.”
The zoo is now hoping Hope’s death could be an “impetus for change” and bring awareness to how fireworks can impact animals.
“We know this was not the intention of local organisers and people letting off fireworks but it does demonstrate in a tragic way the impact that fireworks can have on animals – whether this be zebras, horses, native wildlife or pets in our homes,” Mr Bush said.
The press release said the zoo hopes people will consider alternatives for celebrations – like silent fireworks.
In the comments on the Facebook post, many people also expressed their despair following Hope’s death and their own concerns with fireworks.
“Rest in peace little one, something has to be done, they should be banned completely for public use,” one person wrote.
“I will back any cause that prevents this kind of thing happening again.”
Another person said Hope’s death was “sad and unnecessary” and that they had signed many petitions over the years to ban fireworks.
“Most animals find these noises very stressful, it makes me so angry,” they said.
Hope was born in March earlier this year, as Covid began to spread around the world, forcing businesses to close indefinitely.
The zookeepers gave Hope her name to “symbolise a ray of light and hope at a time which felt so bleak”, adding that she quickly became a “symbol of positivity” not just to the keepers, but also to visitors.
“Her birth was a real high point for us in amongst the challenges of having to close the zoo for three months in support of the national lockdown and we are all feeling her loss greatly,” senior zookeeper Jayne Gibbins said in the press release.
Due to the surge in Covid cases in the UK, the zoo has once again closed due to the lockdown.
Last year, a petition was launched to limit the sale and use of fireworks.
“Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause,” the petition said.
“Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.”
However, the UK Government said it would “not be appropriate” for it to ban the public use of fireworks following an inquiry.
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