An investigation is under way after a young manatee or “sea cow” drowned after becoming stuck in a service shaft in its pool at the Paris zoo.
Barry, who was three years old and weighed 300 kilos, had only arrived at the newly reopened zoo last month as part of a European breeding programme.
The zoo's scientific director, Alexis Lécu, said: “Evidently Barry became stuck in an underwater shaft between two parts of the pool which is usually closed off by a door.”
The manatee, of which only 3,000 still exist in the world, is a gentle, herbiverous mammal which spends most of its life under water but has to surface every ten minutes to breathe.
Adult manatees can reach the age of 60.
Barry was born in a zoo at Odense in Denmark three years ago but was shipped to the Paris zoological park in July as a companion to an older manatee, Titus, aged 24. The creatures were to be one of the star attractions at the zoo which reopened in April after closing for five years for radical rebuilding.