We said goodbye to an older Zoo resident, Fancy the Visayan warty pig. At 20 years old, she was the oldest of her species at a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Recently, Fancy started experiencing serious health issues that made the difficult, but compassionate decision to euthanize her necessary. Fancy was the last of her species at our Zoo.
Our Zoo is committed to giving our animal residents comprehensive care throughout their lives with us. As an older animal resident, Fancy had been given regular quality of life assessments, helping our animal care team assess how she was doing by monitoring ongoing health issues, her mobility, appetite and more.
For the last month, Fancy’s animal care team had been monitoring issues with her right eye. Despite antibiotics and pain medication, the issue didn’t significantly resolve and coupled with ongoing arthritis, Fancy’s quality of life came into question. The decision was made to euthanize Fancy to prevent future suffering. Necropsy confirmed chronic arthritis as well as significant lesions on her right eye that had developed over the past month.
Fancy arrived to our Zoo from her birthplace, another AZA-accredited zoo, with her sister Makina in 2008 to live in our Lands of Change: Australia & Beyond area. The move was a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Visayan warty pigs. The goal of an SSP is to maintain genetic diversity of groups of animals in AZA-accredited facilities and provide a safeguard against the extinction of a species.
Over her lifetime, Fancy gave birth to 8 piglets and has grandpigs now. Each one of those births was so important for this species, which is critically endangered due to habitat loss, human hunting and hybridization with domestic pigs.
While Fancy was considered geriatric, she still had a lot of spunk for an older animal, said Kristen Gagnon, area supervisor of Lands of Change. She was always following her keepers around in her habitat to get some attention or special treats.
“She loved spending time in her wallow to keep cool or laying in the sun for a nice nap,” Kristen said.
Pigs are very intelligent and she was no exception. She really enjoyed interacting with enrichment- especially if it involved foraging for her favorite foods (like fruits!) or the introduction of new scents.
“She would root around her space any time you sprayed perfume around,” Kristen said. “Her nose was always working!”
We aim to give our animals as many comfortable years as possible. This comes with the responsibility of understanding when our care is no longer serving our animals and the hard, but caring decision to say goodbye must be made. Fancy will be missed by our Zoo. We ask that you keep our staff and volunteers in your thoughts.