Sadly They Don't All Make It

It’s been a sad week at Safari Zoo this week.

On Thursday we announced the sad passing of 23 year old Andean Bear, Snoopy. Keepers noticed Snoop was not himself and didn’t have his usual appetite. When his condition didn’t seem to improve, Snoopy was anaesthetised to allow us to obtain blood tests.  Sadly the tests gave us the result we were dreading, his kidneys had completely given in on him, meaning he was very uncomfortable and doubts were raised over his quality of life.  His condition would only deteriorate, leaving him feeling worse. On the advice of our veterinary consultants, the kindest thing to do was to intervene and give him a bit of help.  23 year old Snoopy joined Safari Zoo in 2007 and soon became a firm favourite of staff and visitors alike.  He will be sorely missed by everybody, sleep tight big guy.

Last week we were excited to report the birth of capybara babies here at Safari Zoo.  During regular keeper checks one of the babies was not looking too healthy, surrounded by flies.  The little one was whipped to the vet room, the team painstakingly proceeded to manually remove every egg.  They flushed eggs from the baby’s eyes, tear ducts and ears; tooth brushes, tweezers, combs all came in handy.  The baby was very weak and wobbly on his legs but was making attempts to move around and calling out so we were desperately hoping for a miracle for this little one.  The team attended to him for the following few hours, administering 2 hourly feeds with emergency baby food, making sure he was warm enough with a hot water bottle, plenty of straw and blankets.  Sadly little piglet did not make it through the night, passing away around 2am.

It’s a harsh, and often devastating reality that animals die.  The best case scenario is they pass away peacefully of old age after a long happy life. But life isn’t always like that, it very seldom seems fair.  Despite their age, we always feel it is too soon, we never want it to happen, and despite anyone’s best and most committed efforts, the situation is quite often simply out of our control. This doesn’t make it any easier, and despite knowing you have done your best there is always a little part of you that wonders if we could have done more.

For beautiful Snoopy and little piglet there was nothing more anyone could have done, the team here worked amazingly and with such dedication to give both the best chance at survival.

Sometimes newborns are not strong enough to make it past the first few days. Sometimes young animals have problems that would mean certain death in the wild and we look to intervene and give them a bit of a human hand to give them a chance, sometimes it’s not enough but you do make sure they get to enjoy life for a couple of extra months. Sometimes animals get poorly and we do all we can with treatments to give them the best life possible until the inevitable happens. Sometimes they are poorly and it is untreatable so we make them comfortable until the inevitable happens. Sometimes they need a little help along the way, when the time comes.

This is the harsh reality of life as not only a “zoo keeper”, that’s a job title. This is the harsh reality of being a real-life human, building a bond with these animals day after day, and then caring for them throughout their lives, however long or short that life may be. Without this bond we wouldn’t know when the inevitable was almost there, and we wouldn’t know when they need that bit of help.