June 19, 2024

Old age and Pre-Existing Conditions Contribute to Loss of Zoo Animals

Lee Richardson Zoo

The last week of May was hard for Lee Richardson Zoo.  Old age and pre-existing conditions contributed to the passing of three zoo residents.  “Screech” was a fifteen-year-old screech owl who participated in many education programs over his life at the zoo. 

Screech owls generally live to be 14 years old on average.  He was euthanized due to age-related health issues on May 24th.  Screech had been under veterinary treatment for four years due to these health issues.  During his years at the zoo, Screech was a favorite among guests and keepers and helped educate many guests about native wildlife and raptors.

“Chi,” the twenty-four-year-old dominant male of the alpaca herd, passed away on May 25th due to pneumonia. Staff had been addressing the age-related decline in his health, which had been noticed over the last few months.  Alpacas generally live to be 20 years old.  Chi had been at the zoo for almost fifteen years.  Chi sired fourteen offspring during his time at Lee Richardson Zoo and was well-known for protecting his herd.  Alpacas are native to South America. Alpacas are fully domesticated, and their population is not threatened.  Three alpacas still reside at the zoo.

“Charlie” was a seven-year-old red panda that had been under veterinary treatment for almost three years.  He passed away on May 28th.  Charlie sired eleven offspring during his years at the zoo.  His favorite treat was grapes, and like many pandas (red or giant), he loved to take naps.  The median life expectancy for red pandas is ten years.  Red pandas are endangered and native to Asia, with habitat loss being their biggest threat.  Ember, Charlie’s ten-year-old mate, is currently being monitored for what would be her seventh pregnancy.