The investigation into the case of the mysterious disappearance of the two rare albino barking deer which led to the fatal shooting of the director of the Zoological Park Organisation of Thailand (ZPOT) earlier this month, will be concluded by the end of this month.

The probe into the alleged corruption at Songkhla Zoo, which has seen rare animals go missing before, will also be concluded by the end of the month, ZPOT said.

Two rare albino deer at Songkhla Zoo had mysteriously disappeared, one in 2019 and the other in February of this year.

When the case was brought up again at the beginning of this month following a statement that one of the animals had been eaten by a python, the director of ZPOT, Suriya Saengpong, was shot dead. The gunman who shot him subsequently killed himself.

Chalermchai Papata, chairperson of the ZPOT board, said that two sub-committees were formed on Monday to look the disappearances of the two deer, and alleged corruption at the zoo. Both committees have been given a deadline of 15 days to provide their conclusions on the matters.

The police have also launched an investigation relating to the two missing albino deer.

Their disappearances led to the transfer of four staff members from the zoo. One of four transferred was Phuwadol Suwanna, a senior veterinarian at the zoo who on Oct 3, shot ZPOT director Suriya, and then killed himself.

The second probe relates to the accusation that there is illicit wildlife trading taking place at Songkhla Zoo, where rare and expensive zoo animals have been reported missing over the years.

For instance, a rare macaw disappeared in 2014; rhino horns cut from a dead rhino in 2018 also went missing, as well as the two albino barking deer in last year and this year.

The committees tasked with looking into corruption and the disappearance of animals in Songkhla zoo are being overseen by Sompong Thongsikhem, director of the wildlife conservation office from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

Both committees will submit their findings to the main fact-finding committee, formed by environment minister Varawut Silpa-archa.

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