(Special to westernkansasnews.com)
GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Lee Richardson Zoo staff work hard each day to provide quality care for the animals that live at the zoo. That hard work doesn’t always lead to happy endings though as was evident on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018.
Veterinary and husbandry staff made the hard decision to humanely euthanize Buddy, a 15-year-old Pallas cat, Wednesday morning due to age-related health issues. At the time of his passing, Buddy was the oldest Pallas cat in the Species Survival Program; fifteen is also the age for the oldest male ever on record. The median expectancy for Pallas cats is 8.7 years.
Later that day, Ruby, a five-year-old pronghorn, who was under veterinary care, succumbed to her illness under the tearful gaze of her caretakers. Necropsy revealed a severely compromised lung as well as liver issues. Ruby had five fawns during her years at Lee Richardson Zoo that have moved on to other facilities to help educate their visitors about this unique species.
The remaining pronghorn trio can be seen in the North American area of the zoo. Khir, a one-year-old Pallas cat, still welcomes guests as they enter the Wild Asia area of Lee Richardson Zoo.
Zoo staff will be working with the Pallas Cat Species Survival Plan to identify another individual that can come to Lee Richardson Zoo to help Khir continue to share the message of conservation and stewardship.
Pallas cats are native to the steppes of Asia and share much of the same habitat as snow leopards. Considered Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they face a variety of challenges in the wild including habitat degradation and the large scale poisoning of their main food source, pika and other rodents, which are regarded as pests. Pallas cats have also been hunted for their luxurious fur which varies in length and color seasonally.