Colchester Zoo gives ‘factually accurate’ account of vulture Yatsey’s death

Colchester Zoo. Picture: ARCHANT

Colchester Zoo. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Colchester Zoo has clarified the circumstances surrounding the death of one of its animals following reports that visitors had seen lions eating an escaped vulture.

One of the lions at Colchester Zoo. Picture: ELLIOTT FROST/CITIZENSIDE.COM

One of the lions at Colchester Zoo. Picture: ELLIOTT FROST/CITIZENSIDE.COM - Credit: citizenside.com

In a statement on its website, the zoo confirmed the death of its Eurasian griffon vulture Yatsey – but gave a different account of how yesterday’s “unfortunate incident” came about.

It said Yatsey was free flying during one of its displays when the bird diverted from its usual course and landed on netting above the lions’ enclosure.

“Instinctively, one of the lioness’ caught Yatsey,” the zoo said.

“Keepers acted quickly and effectively to get the lions into their inside enclosure to prevent them from causing further harm.


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“Yatsey was swiftly retrieved by keepers and after an initial examination Yatsey had sustained a puncture wound which looked treatable and keepers were confident he would pull through with veterinary treatment.

“However, following the situation Yatsey had experienced, on the journey to the vets Yatsey sadly passed away from shock.”

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The zoo confirmed that “at no point” was the security of lions’ enclosure compromised.

“We would like to thank visitors for their understanding and cooperation whilst keepers worked to retrieve Yatsey,” the zoo said.

The 22-year-old vulture was said to have had a “big personality” and was a “much-loved” member of the displays team, who have been saddened by Yatsey’s death. “Our thoughts are with Yatsey’s dedicated keepers whilst they are in mourning of their very sad loss,” the zoo added.

“We would like to thank all those who have passed on their condolences and their support.”

Visitors to the zoo yesterday told of their shock upon seeing the incident.

One said: “It was quite frightening because I couldn’t really see what was going on from where I was stood and I just heard all these screams, like really loud screaming.

“It’s a bit of a worrying sound to hear in a zoo and quite traumatic.”

The zookeepers were praised for their response.

An eye-witness said: “To be fair, they did really well.”

“They were all straight over there when the screaming started and cleared out the area.

“Seemed like they were well trained in what to do if something like that should happen.”

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