TOPEKA, Kan. – It is with great sadness that the Topeka Zoo announces the passing of George the Pronghorn. Zoo staff and veterinarians treated George for neurologic symptoms.
Staff members observed changes in George two weeks ago, when George was slower to respond, and didn’t recognize caretakers he normally did recognize. Caretakers say at times it appeared George was having trouble seeing. Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said the symptoms were similar to ones a person would display after experiencing a stroke.
Zoo staff began treating George with antibiotics and pain medication. When symptoms continued, caretakers increased their search for additional underlying causes. A blood sample came back normal, so caretakers changed to a stronger IV antibiotic, and continued to monitor George’s symptoms.
After showing signs of improvement early this week, on Wednesday morning, his condition quickly deteriorated. Zoo staff intensified treatment, and continued looking for parasites that can target neurologic systems. Zoo staff and veterinarians assessed George’s quality of life, and made the decision to euthanize him Wednesday evening. He was surrounded by the many staff members who cared for him deeply.
A necropsy was performed on George yesterday; it did not reveal any obvious cause of his symptoms and/or deterioration. Tissue samples have been sent out for evaluation.
George was born on June 29, 2002. He came to the Topeka Zoo from the Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown, South Dakota, in August 2002. George was a favorite of visitors to the zoo, especially children. He was a very curious animal and would frequently be found grazing on sweet grass next to the boardwalk.
George was approaching his 11th birthday this month. He outlived all of his siblings. The average lifespan of a pronghorn is 10 years.