Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Zookeeper and Oleander

This story was reported out of Tucson yesterday.  Apparently an apprentice zookeeper has accidentally fed two giraffes at our local zoo oleander(nerium).  One has died while the other is in critical condition. This is the 5th zoo animal to die this year.  Story reads as follows from KVOA Channel 4 news......

Reid Park Zoo giraffe dies

Posted: Jul 20, 2011 12:29 PM
Updated: Jul 20, 2011 12:35 PM

TUCSON - One of the male giraffe's at the Reid Park Zoo has died. Watoto, the zoo's male giraffe, died Tuesday night. Pathologists will conduct a full analysis to determine the official cause of death. There is reasonable cause to believe the ingestion of toxic vegetation will be confirmed. Another giraffe remains under careful observation and veterinary care. Watoto began showing signs of an illness early Tuesday. He was refusing food and water, choosing to lie down, and generally displaying lethargy, although he remained responsive. His keeper remained by his side all day, keeping him under close observation. By late afternoon, it was clear that he was not improving. All veterinary reports and advice suggested the situation was grim, and that recovery was not likely. The husbandry team, including Zoo staff and outside zoological experts, stepped in to attempt supportive fluid therapy and the administration of medication to combat the toxicity of the vegetation. The team worked diligently doing everything humanly possible to save the animal however during the initial stage of treatment, the giraffe's heart stopped. After all emergency response options were exhausted he passed away.  Susan Basford, the Zoo's Administrator says, "Through the regrettable events that occurred, I also witnessed our staff at its best - professionals who care deeply about our animals, and who worked diligently as a team doing everything humanly possible to save an animal in our care."

I feel saddened by this news and I'd like to know how the alleged apprentice zookeeper didn't know about the poisonous properties of oleander.  Again,  accidents happen, but at what cost?  What's your opinion?  One more giraffe remains in critical care.


  1. Too bad.
    I would have thought girafes have a feel for good or bad stuff to eat...

  2. I was very upset when I saw that on the news last evening. While I'm sure this was not intentional, if you live and work in Arizona you eventually know that oleander is poisoness at some point. It's not a huge secret. Especially within the confines of a zoo. Tragic and senseless loss of a magnificent animal that cannot be replaced. Judging someone's actions is probably not the thing to do but........:( Susan Basford is right.

  3. This is sad. My puppies ate some poisonous plants years back. I didn't know they were poisonous at that time. Thankfully, they only suffered some rashes and didn't show any signs of lethargy. Btw, grapes is also poisonous for dogs. I also learn that through experience.


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