A thorough investigation began in January after two unexpected zebra deaths puzzled Hogle Zoo staff. Immediately after the zebra pair died, Hogle Zoo officials tested the water, food and intestinal contents for clues. Additionally, Hogle Zoo sent numerous samples to multiple labs and utilized out-of-state and local labs specializing in toxicology and pathology. Each and every test performed was inconclusive as to diagnosis. Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Grevy’s zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator Martha Fischer recognizes the high level of care Hogle Zoo provided for their zebras since they arrived at Hogle Zoo in 1998. She says, "AZA’s Grevy Zebra SSP has worked with Utah’s Hogle Zoo for over twelve years, during which time they maintained these two animals without incident. As an AZA accredited zoo, Hogle Zoo has always provided their zebras with top-notch animal care."
The inconclusive test results are particularly frustrating to Hogle Zoo employees who help in researching, consulting colleagues and doing whatever they can to best understand and care for the animals in their charge. “Two back-to-back deaths are exceptionally difficult and made even more difficult by not having a clear answer at the time of the deaths. This frustration is compounded by having no definitive answer several weeks later,” says Dr. Nancy Carpenter, Hogle Zoo Associate Director—Animal Health.
On the morning of January 26, 2010, keepers discovered the first zebra (Taji) dead in his exhibit without any prior warning or signs of distress. A necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed that same day, where Hogle Zoo vet staff found no obvious cause of death. The next morning, the second zebra (Monty) was discovered inside his barn showing signs of distress. Hogle Zoo staff and vets immediately responded and began emergency medical efforts to treat the zebra’s condition. After working tirelessly all day to save the second zebra, Zoo staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him late in the afternoon on January 27.
Taji and Monty thrived at Hogle Zoo for twelve years since they came to Utah from Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas. The pair was always incredibly active and playful, and a favorite among Zoo guests and staff alike. Taji was born in 1995 and Monty was born in 1997. Visit Hogle Zoo online at www.hoglezoo.org or for more information, contact Community Relations Coordinator Holly Braithwaite by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (801) 584-1729.
About the Association of Zoos & Aquariums: Utah’s Hogle Zoo is one of only 221 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information visit www.aza.org.