North Korean authorities recently launched an investigation into the recent mass death of around 80 female ostriches at the Pyongyang Ostrich Farm, Daily NK has learned.
“About 80 female ostriches from the female pen at the ostrich farm, which is in the Pyongyang suburb of Sunan, died in mid-May,” a Pyongyang-based source told Daily NK on Tuesday.
“The pen they were in was closed off after the deaths occurred and a disease control unit was dispatched to ensure the disease did not spread any further,” he added.
The Pyongyang Ostrich Farm was recently remodeled and a ceremony was held in August last year to commemorate the end of the revamp. The farm has been of particular interest to North Korean officials as part of the country’s efforts to attract tourists. The ostriches at the farm were purchased with party funds and are referred to as “gifts” (선물 타조) from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Earlier this month, the female ostriches at the farm began to froth at the beak and collapsed or fell into spasms. Farm workers and veterinarians did what they could but the ostriches ultimately died.
Party officials associated with the farm along with the farm’s managerial staff were so frightened of being held responsible for the deaths that they tried everything they could to revive them. When nothing they did worked, they were forced to report the deaths to their superiors.
“The incident was reported to the central authorities and eventually even Kim Jong Un heard about it. A team of 10 veterinary disease experts was sent to investigate the deaths and prevent the spread of the disease,” the source said.
The investigation team concluded that the ostriches did not fall ill due to the food they were given, but farm officials remain anxious because the exact cause of what led to the deaths is still unknown, according to the source.
“The Ministry of State Security official attached to the farm has ordered that farm employees prevent any leaks about the incident, and the Central Committee has reportedly ordered that all efforts must be taken to avoid [the spread] of the disease,” he added.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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