Endangered Bison Overdosed on Speed, Says Forensic Study

Endangered Bison Overdosed on Speed, Says Forensic Study

Published: January 23, 2013 (Issue # 1743)

MOSCOW — A European bison, whose sudden death at a Moscow region nature reserve earlier this month sparked outrage among conservationists, died not of food poisoning, but of an overdose of speed, according to a forensic study, RIA-Novosti reported.

The bizarre death of Shponti, a mating bull imported from Germany to boost Russia’s breeding program, was initially chalked up to rotten fruits.But an independent study revealed that the 1,300 kilogram animal had elevated levels of amphetamines in his kidneys, enough to cause cardiac arrest.

It was not immediately clear how Shponti could have ingested the powerful drug.

The Priosko-Terrasny reserve has been at the center of efforts to save the European bison since Soviet times, but has been scandalized in recent years by apparently open warfare between employees and the park’s management.

An earlier statement on the reserve’s website, which appeared to have been written by disgruntled employees, said KaMaZ trucks dumped several crates of rotten mandarins and tomatoes in the bison enclosure sometime before the New Year. The statement laid the blame for Shponti’s death squarely on the park’s director.

Three bison have died at the reserve in murky circumstances in recent months. A female bison, Madonna, perished on Jan. 7, the same day as Shponti, and an eight-year-old breeding bull named Multon was euthanized in October after he apparently broke his jaw.

The results of an official inquiry into the deaths are expected in February.

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