NEW Zoo Mourns Todd the Elk

The NEW Zoo & Adventure Park is saddened to share the news of the passing of a beloved member of our animal family: Todd the elk was humanely euthanized on September 15th, after an acute illness.

Zookeeping staff check on all animals within the zoo every morning during a procedure called the “zoo clear.” During Friday morning’s zoo clear, Todd was observed by his keeper to be normal, and all was well within the North American Prairie habitat. Shortly after the zoo had opened to the public, staff were alerted by a guest that one of the elk was not looking well, and upon immediate investigation of the report, zookeepers discovered Todd with what looked like an abdominal hernia. The situation was deemed an emergency, and veterinary staff were on-site within the hour.

Todd was sedated via a dart so the veterinarian could assess the area and determine a course of action. After examination, the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Todd. The extent of the hernia, as well as the complications of performing an extensive surgery in the field on a bull elk in rut were taken into consideration when making the decision on how to proceed. Our animals’ welfare and wellbeing are of upmost importance to us, and in this case, humane euthanasia was the best option for Todd.

Todd’s presence at the Zoo will be deeply missed. Guests and staff alike were always impressed by his massive antler growth each summer and his magnificent antlers each fall. Todd loved apples and sweet corn, and he really loved “attacking” trees – especially the many Christmas trees donated to the Zoo each January. Like all males of the deer family, Todd could be aggressive and even dangerous to work around during the rut (breeding season), but safety for his habitat-mates and his caretakers was always of the upmost importance. Todd’s sassy attitude (and his “Elvis lip curl!”) endeared him to his caretakers, and he was well-loved by our zoo family.

Todd was 11 years old at the time of his death. The average life expectancy for a wild elk is 10 to 13 years, though in human care, some have been reported to live to 20 years old. The North American Prairie habitat will continue to house 15-year-old female elk Hummus, along with two 9-year-old female American bison. Zookeepers will closely monitor Hummus and the bison to assess their welfare following the loss of their fellow habitat-mate. Please join us in extending condolences to our zookeeping staff after this sudden and difficult loss.

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