Connyland Dolphins Died After 'Heroin' Overdose

The Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 07/05/2012 12:29 Updated: 08/05/2012 13:25

Dolphins
The two dolphins lived at the Connyland zoo in Lipperswil, Switzerland

Two dolphins at a Swiss zoo died after ingesting the heroin substitute drug buprenorphin some time after a "rave" near their habitat, a post-mortem has shown.

The mammals died at Connyland zoo, Lipperswil after a weekend-long festival held near the dolphinarium.

A toxicology report released over the weekend showed that the two ingested buprenorphin, a drug used as a heroin substitute, which caused Shadow and Chelmers to die slowly and painfully.

The party was organised by the Connyland park management, however they deny any wrongdoing in the treatment of the animals. The park's owner and general manager, Roberto Gasser, contacted the Huffington Post UK denying that the party had anything to do with the dolphins' deaths, instead blaming a "planned strike" by animal activists.

Their death was initially blamed on the zoo's vets, who were assumed to have given the dolphins incorrect medicine before the toxicology report finally revealed the real cause of the dolphins' death.

It is not clear who gave the dolphins the drug or when, and whether it was a deliberate act.

The dolphins were bought for the zoo by its founder Nadia Conny, who asked Princess Stephanie of Monaco to be the dolphins' godmother.

dolphins

Princess Stephanie of Monaco met the dolphins back in 2004

Dutch marine biologist Cornelis van Elk added that the drug is incredibly dangerous for sea mammals.

"Opiates are extremely dangerous for underwater mammals.

"Even when sleeping - there is part of the brain that automatically controls the breathing instinct in the same way as it does for people when asleep," van Elk explained.

"Drugging them with opiates could well cause this part of the brain to switch off with fatal consequences."

Their keeper, Nadja Gasser, said that they dolphins died an awful death. Shadow died very soon after the event, with Chelmers dying five days later.

"The death was very drawn out and painful. The death went on for over an hour. It was horrendous. I have not been able to sleep since," Gasser said.

"He [Chelmers] was drifting under the water and was clearly in trouble and so we jumped into the water. We tried to hold him. He was shaking all over and was foaming at the mouth.

"Eventually we got him out of the water. His tongue was hanging out. He could hardly breath. He was given adrenalin, but it didn't help. After an hour the dolphin died."

Correction: This article previously stated that the drug was almost certainly given to the animals at the party, however the park's owners have since disputed that this is the case

Loading Slideshow...
  • A girl dressed as a zombie participates in a zombie walk in Prague (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/GettyImages)

  • French citizens celebrate at Place de la Bastille after Francois Hollande wins the French Presidential Elections in Paris, France. Socialist Francois Hollande has defeated incumbent president and UMP candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, with a projected 52% of the vote in the second and final round of the French Presidential elections. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

  • rad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR)

  • An activist lies on the street pretending to be dead during a flash mob of the campaign called 'Breathing Shouldn't Be Something For Heroes' in Guadalajara, Mexico. Social organizations in thirteen cities of the country participated to demand the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS) better attention to the problems caused by environmental pollution by smoke -- speciallyfrom cars. According to a statement which uses statistics from World Health Organization (WHO), around 14,700 people die each year from air pollution in Mexico. (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A man is kissed by his dog during a dog exhibition in Prague, Czech Republic, (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

  • France's incumbent President and right-wing ruling party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) candidate for the French 2012 presidential election Nicolas Sarkozy flanked by his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrives at a polling station in Paris, France on May 6, 2012 as part of the 2012 French presidential election second round vote. Photo by Christophe Guibbaud/ABACAPRESS.COM

  • A "supermoon" is with a communications tower near Harthill in Scotland. The phenomenon, known as a perigee full moon, is likely to cause higher tides as it reaches its closest point to Earth. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

  • Bristol Zoo's baby gorilla Kukena holds onto his mother's arm as he ventures out of his enclosure at Bristol Zoo's Gorilla Island in Bristol, England. The seven-month-old western lowland gorilla is starting to find his feet as he learns to walk having been born at the zoo in September. Kukena joins a family of gorillas at the zoo that are part of an international conservation breeding programme for the western lowland gorilla, which is a critically endangered species. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

FOLLOW UK