Most people consider their animals to be part of their family, and at Chehaw Wild Animal park, it's no different; which is why staff says they take many steps into the process of laying one of their beloved animals to rest when it passes away.
When an animal dies, those at Chehaw call one of their veterinarians in to perform a necropsy or animal autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Wild Animal Park Director Kevin Hils says this process can provide some sense of closure to the zoo keepers who develop close bonds to the animals.
Hils says it's almost similar to an episode of CSI where everyone on hand tries to piece together the puzzle and figure out what happened, whether it was an illness, fight with another animal or just old age.
If there is no leading cause that can be determined, tissue samples are then sent to a lab for testing.
Chehaw Park Executive Director Doug Porter says they take the process seriously because analyzing the cause of death can provide clues into how to better care for the remaining animals and also finishes their care of the animal being put to rest.
Once the cause is figured out, the park buries the animal on their ground so they can stay with their family even after life. Hils says they have to monitor the remaining animals to see if they need to start the process of bringing another animal in to fill the void it may cause to both the animals and the park.
The entire process is funded into the park's budget of animal care because Porter says caring for the zoo members doesn't end until they're laid to rest.
Hils says it's because of this attention into the causes of death that there have been advances made into animal health, causing longer lifespan and healthier zoos.
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