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'Bureaucratic blunder' caused hippo's death, say zoo employees

DEHIWELA: The Dehiwela Zoo lost a female hippopotamus while the animal was trying to give birth on Saturday morning, with a section of employees blaming negligence by the authorities as the cause for the tragic incident.

The female hippopotamus had died in agony due to suffocation with the lower part of the body of her new born getting stuck in the womb as doctors severed the head in an attempt to save the animal as repeated attempts at safe delivery failed.

But a section of the employees blamed higher authorities for the incident saying that a conducive environment was not prepared for the safe delivery and that wrong procedures had been practised due to lack of knowledge. As a result, the Zoo had lost yet another rare animal due to bureaucratic blunders, they charged.

The hippopotamus named Julia weighing at least two tons was brought to Sri Lanka from the Singapore National Zoo in 1999.

She had later given birth to five calves during her nine year stay at the Zoo. She is believed to be one of the surviving members of a rare breed called grand hippopotamus.

Some employees said the authorities should be better equipped to handle these rare breeds and the lack of knowledge had led to several deaths in recent times.

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