Medical Care Is Top Priority At Tulsa Zoo

Monday, February 23rd 2009, 5:34 pm
By: News On 6

By Margaret Stokes

TULSA, OK -- The recent death of Yukon, a 28-year-old brown bear housed at the Tulsa Zoo, prompted many viewers to post comments on concerning the care of animals in captivity.

Cataracts, diabetes, and the trappings of old age are all illnesses the zoo's residents face daily. As with humans, some are treatable, some are not.

Although disease and old age often take the lives of animals in captivity,  these animals also live two, three, even four times longer than they would in the wild.

At the Tulsa Zoo, the 14-thousand square foot, state of the art veterinary hospital was built just three years ago. This facility allows each animal to receive the emergency and routine treatments they need.

The zoo's veterinary staff says the medical care of their animals is top priority. Yukon is an example of a senior animal that unfortunately met his demise not because of the clock, but because of untreatable liver cancer.

The staff says in every situation the "special needs" animals are cared for in a way that considers both the health and quality of life for the animal.

For instance Brock the penguin underwent cataract surgery, and now at 29 he's happier than ever.

"The keepers report that he sees great, he interacts with his mate, he's able to see the fish and gets in line like everybody else. So it's really increased his activity and it's really improved his quality of life," said Staff Veterinarian Dr. Kay Bakues.

Long term plans have not been made on replacing Yukon at the Tulsa Zoo.