One of the zoos oldest residents, Molly, a 35-year-old female Plains Zebra, was euthanized on Monday due to chronic joint and bone issues brought on by her advanced age. The animal was under extensive veterinary care that included chronic pain management for the last two years. Director Lee Jackson stated “This is never and easy decision, and the Zoo’s keeper staff, veterinary team, and managers in the end had to consider the animal’s quality of life, and the fact that her condition would only deteriorate.”
This was an “extraordinary animal” says Zoo Director Lee Jackson. “Only about 25% of plains zebras reach the age of 24 in captivity, and in the wild none do. According to the American zoo and aquarium associations’ Plains Zebra species survival plan and studbook, there are 270 Plains Zebra in North America and the Niabi Zoo’s 35-year-old female was the 3rd oldest on record. This is a remarkable testament to the level of care afforded the animals at the Niabi Zoo, and to the tireless dedication of our keeper, and veterinary staffs.”
As animal care science and veterinary techniques have improved, many animals in zoos are living well past what can be expected by their wild counterparts. Older animals in zoos face the same challenges as elderly humans; dental, eye and joint issues, digestive problems, and weakened immune function. At Niabi Zoo, keepers, and veterinarians work closely to make sure all of or animals have the best possible quality of life throughout the later stages of life. All animals, but particularly the older ones, are monitored daily for signs of discomfort, and body condition, weights, and food intakes are monitored and recorded in exacting detail.
Molly came to Niabi at the age of one from another institution. She was a recognized fixture at the zoo for a generation of Niabi Zoo visitors.” She was the even keeled Matriarch of our little zebra herd” said Kristina Stump primary hoof stock Keeper at Niabi Zoo. “I’ve looked after her my entire zoo career. She was a lovely animal to work with.”
To learn more about the care, the animals at Niabi Zoo receive, Niabi Zoo encourages the public to attend daily keeper chats. Chats take place daily at noon and 3:pm, and give guest a chance to interact directly with the dedicated individuals who take care of the animals at the zoo.