• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Zoo backs heroin theory in dead dolphins case

Lyssandra Sears · 8 May 2012, 10:56

Published: 08 May 2012 13:43 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 May 2012 10:56 GMT+02:00

The head of the Connyland wildlife park has confirmed a newspaper report suggesting that two dolphins who died after a rave near the zoo last November may have been given a heroin substitute by party-goers.

Connyland chief Erich Brandenberger told Swiss media the park has seen the veterinary report that formed the basis of the poisoning claims laid out in the Sunday edition of the NZZ newspaper.

A toxicology report leaked over the weekend suggests that the two dolphins, Shadow and Chelmers, did not die as a result of the antibiotics administered by their vets as has previously been alleged.

Tests showed that a substance called Buprenorphin, which is used a heroin substitute, was found in the urine of the two dolphins that died at the park last November, online news site 20 Minuten reported. 

“Opiates are extremely dangerous for underwater mammals and would never be used in any legitimate treatment,” dolphin expert Cornelis van Elk, told the Daily Mail news online.

This has reawakened earlier theories about the cetacean deaths, which pointed to the fact that a big rave party had taken place close to the site where the dolphins were kept.

It was at first thought that one of the party-goers had fed drugs to the animals, but this idea was dismissed and the vets were blamed instead, the Daily Mail reported.

Dolphins are conscious breathers, which means that they have to decide when to come to the surface to breath. Even when sleeping, part of a dolphin’s brain is dedicated to serving this basic requirement. Opiates may well interfere with these systems, with fatal consequences, van Elk said.

Prior to the event, animal activists warned of the potential consequences of holding the big party so close to the animal park, but their protests went unheard.

Now the Swiss zoo association has decided to support Connyland against a threatened action to ban dolphins.

In a recent letter to politicians, the association argued that if activists have their way and succeed in removing dolphins from the park, the chances are high that they would soon lobby for other exotic animals to be removed too.

The Green Liberals have criticised the zoo association’s support of Connyland, describing the conditions that the dolphins are kept in as “deplorable”.

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate the case.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Terror fears trigger Swiss run on guns
More people want to own a gun. Photo: kecko.jpg

Applications for gun licences soar in Switzerland amid growing insecurity.

Mountain biker survives icy plunge into the Rhine
The rescue services managed to winch the man to safety. Photo: Graubünden police

A Swiss mountain biker had a lucky escape after toppling into the Rhine river.

No blanket IOC doping ban for Russian athletes
The IOC ruled that 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistleblower on doping in Russian athletics, could not go to Rio even as a neutral. Photo: AFP

At a meeting in Lausanne on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday ordered individual sports federations to decide whether Russian competitors should take part in the Rio Games after failing to agree on a complete ban over Russia's state-run doping.

Van Gogh, Monet paintings seized in Malaysia graft probe
The works were seized following a request from the United States, one of several countries probing alleged massive fraud at the Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Photo: AFP

Switzerland has seized a painting by Vincent Van Gogh and two others by Claude Monet as part of the global investigation into Malaysia's scandal-tainted sovereign wealth fund, an official said on Friday.

IOC reports more doping failures pre-Rio
President Thomas Bach said the retesting showed the IOC's commitment to fight doping. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee reports 45 new doping failures from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Swiss pilots: don’t hunt Pokémon from the air
Pokemon hunting has become a world-wide craze. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The Swiss civil aviation office hears reports of people playing the popular new game from helicopters.

‘Nelson’ the black swan found dead in Montreux
File photo: Noel Reynolds

The non-native swan caused a media storm earlier this month.

Zurich school threatened over links to Erdogan opponent
File photo: Aris Messini/AFP

School targeted over claims it is associated with Fethullah Gulen.

Violent storms hit Switzerland as planet heats up (again)
File photo: Benjamin Benson

Globally, June 2016 was the hottest month on record.

Swiss sports court upholds ban on Russian athletes
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva (centre) is among the athletes affected. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/Wang Zhao/Greg Baker/AFP

The decision by Lausanne's Court of Arbitration for Sport is a "funeral for athletics" said one Russian athlete.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Grand Tours Project
Features
Why you should get on your bike in Switzerland
Photo: The Local
Society
Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees
Photo: Rolf Krahl/Christophe G
International
Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness’
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: The Local
International
Chaos in Como after Swiss send back refugees
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP/The Local
Lifestyle
Nine top celebrity hotspots in Switzerland
Photo: Graubunden police
National
World-class Swiss climber Norbert Joos dies on ‘home mountain’
Photo: Kathleen Waters
Society
Italian ‘ignored’ by Swiss schools in language wars
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: Whitepod
Features
The quirkiest places to stay in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Migrant busted trying to sneak into Switzerland in a suitcase
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read
National
Basel suffers wettest six months for 150 years
Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
Technology
Why Swiss science could suffer badly from Brexit fallout
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Robert Valencia
International
Swiss couple in Nicaragua told to give back adopted daughter
Photo: Zurich cantonal police
National
Police hunt prisoner on the run in Zurich murder case
Photo: Christoph G
Politics
Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Bernacqua
Lifestyle
Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Basel Justice and Security Dept
Lifestyle
New signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Daniel Orth
Education
Muslim school kids denied passport for refusing swimming lessons
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Politics
Swiss-EU talks ‘must’ resume this summer, says President
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva could get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
4,571
jobs available