Topeka Zoo Euthanizes Addra Gazelle

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From the Topeka Zoo

TOPEKA, Kan. – After five hours of emergency and supportive care Wednesday, an Addra Gazelle was euthanized as the animal’s condition continued to deteriorate. Shortly after noon on Wednesday (12/26), the gazelle appeared to be acting normal as its enclosure was being serviced. Approximately five minutes later, the gazelle was down and unable to stand.

Zoo animal care and veterinary staff responded to the enclosure. The primary concern was getting the gazelle back on its feet and avoiding a potentially fatal condition called capture myopathy. Capture myopathy is a physiologic condition that “prey” type animals can succumb to when they have the perception that they are trapped. Zoo staff even tried slinging the gazelle as part of the measures to turn it around.

At about 4 p.m., with the animal’s condition still deteriorating, zoo staff knew that a decision would have to be made soon. Shortly after 5 p.m. the gazelle was euthanized.

A necropsy that was completed Thursday revealed abnormalities associated with the animal’s liver and other non-specific changes in some organs. While these abnormalities are significant, until histopathology results are in, a final cause of death will not be listed.

"More time and information will be needed to determine if some of the organ abnormalities are congenital in nature," said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “Because of the critical status of this species, we are determined to learn as much information as possible about the death. Understanding the best way to manage this species is critical.”

The gazelle, known to zoo staff as Zahir, was three years old and came to the zoo in the fall of 2011. Zahir was one of three Addra Gazelles in the zoo’s collection. Addra Gazelles are critically endangered. It is estimated that there are 500 gazelles of this species left in the wild. The Topeka Zoo is one of 20 North American zoos working with the species through a Species Survival Plan with the hopes that one day, gazelles bred in North America can be returned back to the wild.