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Inspectors reject claims of thousand animal deaths at Vietnam safari
By Lam Nghi - Phuong Vi - Thanh Nien News -
 Zebras at Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc. Photos: Viet Lam
 A giraffe at the park.
 A Bengal tiger at the park.
Authorities in the southern province of Kien Giang have rejected claims that 1,700 creatures died at Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc following an inspection at the newly-opened park.
Kien Giang’s forest management agency and environment police department on Tuesday checked the 500-hectare park, developed by Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup.
The inspection came after British zoo consultant Peter Dickinson wrote on his blog Zoo News Digest that according to his contact, “most of the expat team” has left the park after the deaths of more than 1,000 birds and nearly 700 mammals.
“Recent rumors that animals died en masse at Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc are false,” the team of inspectors concluded in a report released Wednesday.
The report said only 108 creatures died as their health was badly affected by the long transport process or because they could not adapt to the new environment in Phu Quoc Island.
“None of them are rare animals like lion, tiger and rhino,” according to the report.
It also denied Dickinson’s claim that 500 monkeys left the park, saying that only 135 small long-tailed monkeys escaped the grid cages which had been designed for larger monkeys.
The new figures confirmed by the team are consistent with those in Vingroup’s earlier reports.
According to the authorities, Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc, which opened last December, imported 2,236 creatures of 104 species.
In addition, the park borrowed 14 rhinos from My Quynh Zoo in the southern province of Long An.
Nguyen Dang Trung, an experienced zoo consultant, said the death ratio of below 5 percent at a new zoo is “normal."
The park’s management also rejected claims that most of the foreign experts have left the safari.
Pham Tuan Linh, a manager, told Tuoi Tre newspaper only two out of the ten foreign experts had left its animal hospital last month, after their contracts expired.
“The remaining eight specialists -- five from India and three from Singapore, France and Thailand -- are still working here,” the newspaper quoted Linh as saying.