Reid Park Zoo says goodbye to ostrich and white-handed gibbon

Reid Park Zoo is saddened to announce the loss of 47-year-old gibbon, Moms, and 4-year-old female ostrich.

Moms was euthanized July 8 due to age-related health issues. Moms was one of the oldest gibbons in the United States.

“The Zoo is committed to providing whole-life care to its animal residents. Our animal care staff provided outstanding care for Moms, managing her age-related issues,” said General Curator Dr. Sue Tygielski. “Many animals tend to live longer in Zoos because of the nutrition, health care and daily attention from animal care professionals provided, therefore, we have many elderly animals at Reid Park Zoo.”

Elderly animals require a lot of special care. The animal care and veterinary staff had been managing her health closely and determined humane euthanasia was the best course of action as her health acutely declined.

“Euthanasia is always a difficult decision to make and we take into account many factors. Ultimately, we made this decision with heavy hearts based on her declining quality of life.  It became clear, we could no longer overcome the issues that developed with her advanced age,” said Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Alexis Moreno. “We’re proud of everything we’ve done and provided the best quality of life for Moms.”

Median life expectancy for white-handed gibbons is 25 to 30 years. White-handed gibbons are endangered due to loss of habitat and illegal pet trade. Populations have declined more than 50 percent over the past 40 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the listing authority for the designation of endangered species.

This loss leaves Reid Park Zoo with one gibbon, Billy, a 43-year-old male.  His health is stable and he is eating well.

A female ostrich passed away July 6 due to complications associated with an obstruction in her gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

“Unfortunately, ostriches both in the wild and in zoos and other conservation institutions are indiscriminate eaters and as a result commonly develop blockages throughout their GI tract,” Moreno said. “Zoo keepers, curators and veterinarians worked with the animal around the clock.”

According to IUCN, ostriches are a species of least concern.