We made the extremely difficult, but compassionate decision to euthanize one of our beloved long-term Zoo residents, Clementine the white-tailed deer, on November 19.
At 13 years old, Clementine was well beyond the life expectancy for a white-tailed deer. Her older years coupled with an ongoing kidney disease led our animal care and veterinary staff to monitor her closely for any changes in her health and well-being. All older residents at our Zoo receive assessments to assess their quality of life regularly.
On November 18, our staff noticed Clementine was lethargic and uninterested in her food. Mindful of her kidney disease and the possibility of dehydration, our care staff worked quickly to run bloodwork and give her fluids. Several rounds of bloodwork showed that her health was deteriorating even with treatment, and the hard decision was made to euthanize Clementine.
“We are dedicated to helping our animals age with dignity, and we cannot allow them to suffer, no matter how hard it is for us to say goodbye,” said Zach Marchetti, Curator of Animals.
Our staff were made aware of the possibility of Clementine’s passing beforehand and given the opportunity to say goodbye to this 13-year resident of our Zoo.
“We know how much Clementine means to our entire Zoo family, so we wanted to make sure everyone was aware,” Zach said.
Clementine came to our Zoo in 2008 as a fawn. She had a leg injury and had been separated from her mother, likely due to fires in her natural habitat at the time. She was initially a part of the Petting Zone (now the Barnyard), making her a special part of guest memories of the Zoo.
Most recently, Clementine lived in our Wild Florida loop with fellow white-tailed deer Persimmon, an Osceola turkey flock, a Florida sandhill crane flock and Baird’s tapir Josie. Clementine and Persimmon were favorites along the boardwalk in this area as they delicately munched on their diet from guests’ hands.
“Clementine was able to create amazing connections with guests, especially with kids who would come to the Zoo just to see and feed her,” said Wild Florida keeper Marc Franzen. “She was the perfect ambassador for all white-tailed deer and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.”
Saying goodbye to such a long-time resident is especially tough for our Zoo community. We ask that you keep the staff, volunteers and guests who cherished Clementine in your thoughts.