|MIssy the Capybara|
|Osceola the Panther|
The Zoo family is mourning the loss of two of its well-loved animals: Missy, a capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world, and Osceola, an ambassador for the Florida panthers. Zookeepers found Missy’s body in her exhibit Thursday morning. Osceola died from unknown complications following surgery on Thursday afternoon, despite multiple efforts to resuscitate him.
“It is heartbreaking for all of us when we lose one of our animals,” said Jan Steele, General Curator for the Palm Beach Zoo. “It is even harder to accept when we lose two, especially such beloved and well-known animals as Missy and Osceola.”
At nearly eleven years old, Missy was considered to be one of the oldest capybaras in captivity within the state of Florida. She was born on October 2, 2002, and was brought to the Palm Beach Zoo in September 2003 from the Alexandria Zoological Park. Just last week, she had returned to her regular exhibit after recent remodeling. Missy was nearly blind with inoperable cataracts in both eyes. She displayed good health in her last medical exam, despite her advanced age.
“Missy was a long-term staff favorite at the Zoo, and was beloved by dedicated guests who have seen her with us for ten years,” said Steele. “We are glad she is not suffering, but she will be sorely missed.”
Osceola rose to fame after he was orphaned as a cub and rescued by the Puma Task Force/SSP at the Oregon Zoo. Once rehabilitated, he and his “foster brother” Micco (MEE-koe) came to the Palm Beach Zoo when they were around four months old. Both panthers turned one year old in January, and were given names based in the history of the Seminole Indians, who are indigenous to Florida and have always worked toward the stabilization of the Florida panther population.
Thursday morning, Osceola was anesthetized, and underwent a surgical procedure to treat an abscess. The procedure went well, and he at first appeared to recover quickly from the anesthesia under medical observation. However, within a half hour of his awakening, Osceola stopped breathing. The Zoo’s veterinarian, vet techs and several zookeepers immediately began multiple attempts at emergency resuscitation, but were unable to revive him.
“It is always a shock when a young, otherwise healthy animal dies suddenly,” said Steele. “When an animal was as charismatic as Osceola, staff members are especially devastated. We had hoped that Osceola and Micco would continue to serve as ambassadors for the Florida panther for years to come.”
“Keepers will be spending a lot of time with Micco,” Steele continued. “We hope that will help him to recover from the loss of his brotherly companion, and help to heal the keepers, who all loved Osceola.”
Necropsy (animal autopsy) results are still pending for both animals. Results may not be available for several weeks.
Both animals will be remembered as ambassadors for their species. To help honor their memories, large photos of Missy and Osceola will be displayed at their exhibits, and all Zoo staff members observed a moment of silence on the Zoo’s radio communications system on Friday morning.