Yesterday we made the most difficult decision zoological professionals must make: we chose to say goodbye to one of our animals.
Ivory, our 17-year-old goat, had been struggling with arthritis for several years. It progressed to the point where she could no longer stand for extended periods of time or “keep up” with the other goats. Lying in the sun, one of Ivory’s favorite activities, was no longer enjoyable for her.
In August, Ivory developed an oral condition that caused her teeth to loosen. While she responded positively to treatment at first, her condition soon deteriorated, and she had been struggling to eat solid food for the past two weeks.
Despite providing Ivory with the best veterinary care possible, there was nothing more we could do to improve her quality of life.
Em, Ivory’s keeper of eight years, puts it best:
One of the hardest, but best things in caring for animals is being able to do the right thing for them at the right time so they never have to suffer. At this point in time, we can say Ivory has had a great life and she is still our wonderful smiling Ivory. I don’t want to ever have to say, “we should have let her go sooner.”
The Ivory I’ll remember was smart, spunky and independent. My favorite thing about her was her smile. If you were having a bad day and you looked at her, how could you not feel better? She brightened so many people’s days when they visited the Petting Zone and saw her. I have heard so many times, “look at her smiling!”
She was matriarch of the goat herd. When we took her for walks out of the Petting Zone, you’d hear all the other goats calling for her still as you walked away. I always felt bad for the person left behind with the other goats, as they would get all feisty and run a ruckus until she returned!
I love hearing stories from people who knew Ivory when she was young, hearing how feisty she could be and that she was even a bit of a troublemaker in her younger days. Much different from the sweet, mellow, gentle girl I always knew!
It was a privilege to care for Ivory over the years and be with her through not only the great times, but also when she needed to go through things like exams and surgeries. Being with her in those instances, as well as when she fell asleep for the last time, hopefully made things a little easier for her.
Ivory—we love you, we’ll miss you and we’ll always remember your sweet smiling face.