“This tragedy happened partly because people were leaving behind their trash after going to the beach.”
Billy, an eight-year-old cow, was beloved by locals and visitors alike on Pui O beach on Hong Kong’s Lantau island, which the animal called home.
Yet Billy the beloved bull, who even had a Facebook fan page dedicated to him, is now no more. The friendly neighborhood bovine was found dead on the beach and he did not die of natural causes, either.
A postmortem examination showed that the ungulate had had its intestinal track and stomach blocked with enough plastic bags to fill two rubbish bins. While grazing for food in the area of the beach, the cow had accidentally swallowed large quantities of plastic trash left behind by holidaymakers and beachgoers.
Billy reportedly had a penchant for nosing around picnic and camping areas in search of leftovers so he may have mistaken plastic wrappings and other discarded items for actual food.
“I believe this tragedy happened partly because people were leaving behind their trash after going to the beach or to the countryside,” said Greenpeace campaigner Chan Hall-sion. “Don’t think that you’ve already done your part by throwing rubbish into the bin,” she added.
Sadly, such tragedies are far from being unusual. Untold numbers of animals, from birds to fish to mammals, continue to perish daily as a result of plastic waste littering beaches and contaminating the oceans.
Often, animals like turtles and seabirds get entangled in discarded plastic items like nets, slowly suffocating or starving to death. Other animals like whales routinely die after swallowing large amounts of plastic waste by mistaking it for food.
There are vast amounts of plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans and it’s not as if people around the world are slowing down in adding to it. Each year another 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the planet’s seas. There is so much plastic waste ending up in the oceans, in fact, that soon there will likely be more of it in the seas than fish.