Video: Zoo animal deaths draw scrutiny

updated 5/17/2005 12:54:13 AM ET 2005-05-17T04:54:13

Prosecutors said Monday they are investigating the city’s zoo after a spate of recent animal deaths has alarmed animal rights activists.

Two elephants, two gorillas, a camel and three endangered Francois langur monkeys have died at the Lincoln Park Zoo in recent months. Another elephant died shortly after it was moved to a zoo in Utah.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office said Monday it would investigate to determine if the deaths were the result of any criminal wrongdoing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, which accredits U.S. zoos, are also reviewing the zoo’s animal care practices.

On Sunday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to State’s Attorney Richard Devine urging a criminal investigation.

Nearly 200 people also protested outside the zoo Sunday, calling for the ouster of the facility’s president. On the same day, the zoo acknowledged that last month it amputated the arm of a young gibbon, a small ape native to Southeast Asia.

Zoo spokeswoman Kelly McGrath said the animal’s arm was broken as it reached through mesh, and that the damage could not be repaired.

The Lincoln Park Zoo, established in 1868, is open year-round near the shore of Lake Michigan.

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