We recently made the difficult but humane decision to euthanize two of our most long-term residents, Lorraine the scimitar-horned oryx and Tessa the American alligator.
Prior to her death, Lorraine could no longer maintain a healthy weight and had trouble keeping up with the herd. At the age of 18, she had exceeded her species’ standard life expectancy by several years; any veterinary treatments we could offer would simply prolong her suffering.
Lorraine arrived from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in April 2003, shortly before the opening of Expedition Africa. She proved to be the most dominant female and would protect the herd by charging vehicles if she felt they came too close. Lorraine gave birth to six calves, most of which still live here at the Zoo.
Like Lorraine, Tessa had issues keeping on weight. An antibiotic administered in July did not lead to improvement, and keepers recently noticed she lost use of one of her legs. A necropsy revealed an abnormal reproductive tract that was directing eggs into her body cavity and the presence of only one kidney.
Tessa, who was roughly 30 years old, had lived at the Zoo since November 1994. She was a keeper favorite, readily swimming up to the dock for feedings and training sessions.
Saying goodbye to the animals you know and love never gets easier. We’ll miss Lorraine and Tessa quite a bit, but we take comfort in the fact that we were able to alleviate their suffering.