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Photo: EP Zoo

After gazelle deaths, El Paso Zoo considers changes to Savanna exhibit in Africa section

The El Paso Zoo is considering changes to the Upper Savanna exhibit in the Africa section of the Zoo due to incidents that happened in the last six months. Zoo staff is addressing the incidents that involve the Zoo’s Thomson’s gazelles who are currently housed in a multi-species exhibit with giraffes and kudu.

El Paso Zoo African savanna
El Paso Zoo African savanna

All three gazelles were housed in Upper Savanna exhibit in the Africa section which opened in 2010. Although different circumstances, the deaths resulted from injuries while animals were moved in and out of their barns.

The most recent gazelle death occurred on December 16, 2015.

“Animal welfare is the top priority of all staff members of the El Paso Zoo,” said Zoo Director Steve Marshall. “While we have not determined the exact causes of these situations, we have determined that they have occurred when moving the animals on and off exhibit.”

Although the deaths were not directly related, they may demonstrate a pattern, Marshall said. Zoo staff believe these incidents may be caused by the changing dynamic of the growing size of the herd or possibly due to gazelles that are young and inexperienced in the exhibit.

Thomson's gazelle
Thomson’s gazelle

“We have had gazelles on this exhibit since 2010 and before July 2015, this hadn’t previously been an issue,” Marshall said. “Animal care staff have made changes to protocol in an attempt prevent further injuries. As we continue to make animal welfare a top priority, we may have to make the decision to transfer the gazelles out of our Zoo and bring in a less nervous antelope species.”

Zoo animal care staff will continue to work on determining the problem and will continue to make changes, as needed, to protect the gazelles.

Author: El Paso Zoo

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