SEATTLE ‒ A 16-year-old, male zebra, named Furahi (fer-AW-hee), was euthanized today at Woodland Park Zoo after being found unable to stand and suffering from apparent seizure activity. Zebras can live 20 to 30 years in the wild and up to 40 years in zoos.
The zoo’s animal health team responded immediately after a zookeeper discovered the zebra was experiencing seizures on the African Savanna. Despite urgent medical aid, the convulsions continued and the veterinarian made the humane decision to euthanize the animal in distress. This zebra had been under long-term veterinary care for a chronic medical condition.
According to Dr. Darin Collins, director of Animal Health at Woodland Park Zoo, “we will perform a necropsy (animal autopsy), which is routine for all animal deaths at the zoo.” A final cause of death is pending complete results of histology and other diagnostic testing. The remains will become part of the research and education collection at The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Furahi was born at Woodland Park Zoo and did not have any offspring. One zebra, a 9-year-old female, remains at the zoo.
Woodland Park Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and follows rigorous standards for animal health care and husbandry for all of its animals. “Our zookeepers and veterinary staff provide excellent day-to-day care for our animals and are impacted by the death of an animal. The animal management and animal health teams faced today’s sudden incident with professionalism and compassion,” said Martin Ramirez, curator of mammals at Woodland Park Zoo.
The zebras at Woodland Park Zoo represent the plains or Damara species. Zebras live throughout eastern and southern Africa and inhabit open, grassy plains or well-grassed woodlands. While several attempts have been made over the last two centuries, zebras have never been successfully domesticated. The plains zebra is the only species of wild equid not near or on the verge of extinction. While plains zebra populations remain plentiful, their numbers diminished greatly in the last century due to humans hunting them for sport and their skins. Another threat is loss of habitat due to the rapid expansion of human populations. As with so many large animals, both prey and predator, humans pose the greatest risk to zebras’ continued existence in the wild.
Zoo visitors can enjoy giraffe, hippos, patas monkeys, ostrich and lions at the award-winning African Savanna exhibit. Coming to the Savanna in May are warthogs, a new species at the zoo. The pigs will make their home in the former African wild dog exhibit which is currently undergoing a transformation to evoke the arid savannas of East Africa.
For more information about the zoo and how to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org. Or call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY).