The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo is home to over 200 incredible animals, many of which have lived here for decades. One of the hardest parts of being a zoo keeper is saying goodbye to the animals in our care and with many in their twilight years, we lose individuals to age related illnesses. In the last month, staff and keepers said farewell to two such individuals who lived long lives at the zoo and have left a lasting impression on the hearts of generations of keepers and guests.
On August 19th, Horus, the African grey passed away. After 34 years at the Teaching Zoo, Horus forged countless relationships with keepers. In the mornings, when keepers would walk together to check on the animals in their areas, Horus would whistle his battle call and the group would collectively respond “CHARGE”. The zoo’s partnership with the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Zoological Medicine Service helps us provide the residents in the zoo with the greatest care possible. When Horus acquired a fungal infection in his lungs, the vets and staff worked for nearly two weeks straight to fight it. Unfortunately, just like with humans, animal’s immune systems are not as strong as they grow older. With his condition deteriorating drastically, the decision was made to humanely euthanize him.
Only weeks later, while the zoo and the community were preparing for Tropical Storm Hermine, we were also coping with the passing of Jay, the Asian small-clawed otter. At the age of 15, Jay touched so many lives. We all watched his exceptional parenting skills as he taught his pups, Webster and Asia, to swim. Keepers fondly remember him napping in a tree, the last place you would expect to see an otter. In August, he had his routine annual physical exam. Tests done at his exam revealed kidney dysfunction and he began to show the side effects shortly after. His quality of life rapidly diminished, and with a heavy heart, staff decided euthanasia was the humane action to take.
These two extraordinary animals will always hold a place in the memories of staff and visitors. You can visit with our many other charismatic characters, young and old, animal and human alike, every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.