Baby zebra named 'Hope' dies at Somerset zoo

Baby zebra named ‘Hope’ dies at Somerset zoo after being ‘spooked’ by a firework – as three budgies suffer fatal seizures and yobs strap rockets to KITTENS

  • Baby Zebra named ‘Hope’ has died after the animal was ‘spooked by a firework’
  • The animal, born in March, died at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxhall, Somerset
  • Hope was so-called as keepers said she symbolised a ray of hope in a bleak time

A baby Zebra named ‘Hope’ has died at a Somerset zoo after the animal was ‘spooked by a firework’ which caused it to collide with the boundary of her paddock.

The nine-month-old animal, born at the start of the first lockdown in March, died at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxhall on November 4. 

Keepers at the zoo have been left ‘devastated’ after a post-mortem ruled that the sudden impact caused the immediate death of the mammal. 

The zebra was named Hope because keepers said she symbolised a glimmer of positivity during a bleak time.

A baby Zebra named ‘Hope’ has died at a Somerset zoo after the animal was ‘spooked by a firework’ which caused it to collide with the boundary of her paddock

However the zoo is hoping good can come from the zebra’s death – and people will now realise the impact firework displays can have.

A statement said: ‘As a zoo, we are determined that something good comes out of this and so we feel it is so important that people are aware of what has happened.

‘We hope people will change their views about fireworks and become much more aware of the impact they can have on animals.’ 

The nine-month-old animal (pictured with his mother Polly, left) born at the start of the first lockdown in March, died at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxhall, Somerset, on November 4

It continued: ‘We would like to use this tragic event as an impetus for change and we really hope that people will now think hard and adopt alternative arrangements like silent fireworks or other more animal-friendly options for their bonfire night celebrations.’

Managing director Larry Bush added: ‘We’re feeling devastated by the loss of our young zebra Hope.

‘She was so full of energy and life and she was a very healthy young zebra.

‘It is such a tragedy that she has lost her life, seemingly as a result of fireworks being set off at nearby events which were intended as a celebration.

The zebra was named Hope because keepers said she symbolised a ray of positivity in a bleak time

Keepers at the zoo have been left ‘devastated’ after a post-mortem ruled that the sudden impact caused the immediate death of the mammal

Managing director Larry Bush added: ‘We’re feeling devastated by the loss of our young zebra Hope’ 

‘We know this was not the intention of local organisers and people letting off fireworks but it does demonstrate in a tragic way the impact that fireworks can have on animals – whether this be zebras, horses, native wildlife or pets in our homes.’

It comes after a nurse has called for fireworks to be banned after her three pet budgies died of seizures following ‘extremely loud and terrifying’ fireworks.

Abbie Sissons, 28, from Ripley, Derbyshire, was left distraught after Jareth, Sarah and Shirley died on Friday 6 November – hours after the ‘loudest fireworks she’d ever heard’ were let off at a neighbourhood display.

The zoo statement said: ‘We hope people will change their views about fireworks and become much more aware of the impact they can have on animals’ 

The mental health nurse said, as soon as the fireworks were let off at around 6.30pm, the birds started ‘panicking and flying around’ in their aviary in her garden and died within minutes.

Vets revealed how it was common for animals, such as birds, to suffer seizures as a result of sudden loud noises.

‘The deaths of these little birds were purely due to the setting off of fireworks in a garden for entertainment,’ Abbie said.

Abbie Sissons, 28, from Ripley, Derbyshire, was left distraught after her beloved birds died 

‘This entertainment resulted in a night of devastation and heartbreak for us.

‘I had to witness Shirley taking her last breath after only a few weeks of her finally being saved and given a safe, permanent and happy home.

‘The fireworks were the loudest fireworks I have every heard in a residential area. I have attended public-licensed displays previously, and in my opinion the noise level was the same.

A nurse has called for fireworks to be banned after her three pet budgies (pictured, Shirley) died of seizures following ‘extremely loud and terrifying’ fireworks

‘I have been extremely distressed and concerned for the welfare of animals. I am absolutely distraught.

‘Even I was shaken and shocked by such an extremely loud and terrifying bang.’

Abbie also described the ‘heartbreak’ of seeing her pets in ‘utter distress’ and has called for fireworks to be banned in the UK.    

She added: ‘Jareth started having a seizure and died in 10 minutes. Then Sarah did the same. Their wings came out and they couldn’t fly or walk.


Abbie Sissons, 28, from Ripley, Derbyshire, was left distraught after Jareth, Sarah (pictured) and Shirley died on Friday 6 November

‘The heartbreak at seeing your pets in complete and utter distress because they don’t understand what or why these noises are happening is terrible.’

The nurse, whose dog also suffered a seizure as a result of the display but survived after taking medication, now wants fireworks banned in the UK.

Abbie continued: ‘I find it astonishing that there are warning signs at food drive-thrus in residential areas, advising customers not to beep your car horn due to the local residents however, for around six weeks a year, fireworks with such excessive noise levels are allowed.

Abbie revealed how she would love a ‘complete ban’ on fireworks after the death of the budgies

‘I would love a complete ban. Currently there are no laws or legislation around noise pollution which allows people in residential areas to set off fireworks with no noise level regulations. 

‘If these fireworks were quieter and did not have extremely loud bangs, I believe my budgies would not have suffered heart attacks.’

Dr Yvette Rowntree, of Scarsdale Vets in Derby, said: ‘Birds see much more vividly in colour than mammals, so what look to be pretty fireworks to us can be incredibly threatening to birds,’ she said.

‘Birds in aviaries are more at risk, due to them not having a solid structure between them and the fireworks, so if possible it is advisable to bring aviary birds inside during this time but this in itself is not without risk if birds are used to being outside.’

Abbie described the ‘heartbreak’ of seeing her pets in ‘utter distress’ (pictured, the aviary where the budgies were kept) and has called for fireworks to be banned in the UK

It comes as the RSPCA has told how yobs strapped rockets to kittens with the charity reporting how six animals have died from incidents involving fireworks around Bonfire Night. 

A cat was killed in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, on November 2 when a firework was attached to him and lit.

On Bonfire Night, two kittens – in Bradford, West Yorkshire, and Kenilworth, Warwickshire – had fireworks strapped to them and set off.

RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon also believed she could have been targeted when collecting two kittens (pictured iny Tim and Nancy) on Saturday 6 in Kent

Meanwhile the burned body of a cat was discovered in Queensferry, North Wales, which had a firework attached. 

How to keep dogs safe during fireworks  

  • Make sure your dog or cat has somewhere to hide – perhaps under some furniture or in a cupboard – and can get to it at any time.
  • Ensure your pet is kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape 
  • Make sure your pets are microchipped in case they do escape
  • During fireworks season, walk dogs during daylight and keep pets indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off
  • At nightfall, close windows and curtains and put on music to mask and muffle the sound of fireworks

 Source: RSPCA

The charity is calling for the use of fireworks to be restricted to agreed traditional dates, such as November 5, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.

It also wants the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks for public sale to be reduced, and certain displays to be licensed.  

RSPCA inspector Rosie Russon also believed she could have been targeted when collecting two kittens on Saturday 6 in Kent.    

Ms Russon has collected the two-week-old black-and-white siblings, named Tiny Tim and Nancy, when a firework blasted at them.

Footage has revealed how the two helpless kitten were crying in fear.   

The RSPCA has received 82 reports of animal injuries in relation to fireworks in November. 

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Mark Kennedy said: ‘Fireworks are extremely stressful and frightening for many animals.

‘Around 62 per cent of dogs, 55 per cent of horses and 54 per cent of cats in the UK show signs of anxiety when they hear fireworks.

‘All too often we hear heartbreaking stories of animals like Flashy and Faye who seriously injure themselves in a blind panic after being spooked by fireworks.

‘Perhaps even more shockingly, we seem to be seeing more incidents reported to our inspectors of animals being deliberately targeted and injured using fireworks.

‘Enough is enough – we need tighter controls over the sale and use of these potentially lethal explosives.’  

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