Six deer near the Japanese city of Nara have died in recent months because they had kilos of plastic in their stomachs. The deer are an important part of tourism in the city, attracting around two million visitors annually.
The nationally protected deer roam the city freely and are quite tame. Tourists can feed them special crackers. Some deer get so much food that they can barely stand on their feet.
However, the animals do not see the difference between food and plastic. Once a deer receives plastic, the process of ruminating is disrupted and the animal can no longer take in any new food.
A veterinarian tried to feed a seventeen year old, heavily emaciated doe in March. The animal refused to eat and died a day later. After autopsy, it turned out that the animal had 3.2 kilos of plastic in her stomach. The five other deceased deer had also swallowed kilos of plastic, the largest amount was 4.3 kilos.
Animal welfare organizations urge tourists to be more careful and not to throw away their waste nearby the deers.