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Taipei Zoo Organizes Online Prayer Session for Deceased Animals

Monks reciting the scripture at the memorial service for deceased animalsAs households across the country prepare offerings for the Ghost Festival which takes place on the 15th day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar, Taipei Zoo is holding the prayer session in memory of deceased animals. This is also the second year which the event is being streamed online.
The prayer session for deceased zoo denizens has been conducted annually over the past decade, with the organizer inviting Buddhist monks to preside over the ceremony. In addition, the zoo also invited Christian leaders to head a respective peace prayer session to accommodate the needs of different faiths.
Due to COVID-19, this year continues to be streamed online to reduce the risk of contagion from largescale gathering. On August 1, Zoo Director Liu Shyh-fen led staff in reciting scriptures online. The Christian prayer session was held on August 5. Over 80 staff members of the zoo prayed for the deceased animals, thanking them for the company they’ve provided to zoo visitors in the past.
While birth, aging, sickness, and death are inevitable aspects of nature, conducting the best daily maintenance for animals and maximizing their well-being is the responsibility of modern zoos. The institution needs to exercise observation and assessment skills to track the health of its occupants. At times, it must make hard choices in the face of severe illness, contagious diseases, and other abnormal situations. This may mean humane methods to minimize additional sufferings.
Under the Taipei Zoo Animal’s Humane Handling Protocol, zookeepers, vets, and zone directors must reach an agreement (and consult outside experts if required) on actions to be taken when determining the life and death of animals facing such crisis. Last year, the decision on Grace’s fate (a Koala who suffered acute leukemia) was decided in such manner.
The online prayer session is also an opportunity for participants to celebrate the life of these animals, thanking them for the company they’ve provided and reminding us of the importance of Mother Nature and our environment.