Sadness at deaths at Calgary Zoo, but joy at birth

CALGARY — There were tears of sadness and joy at the Calgary Zoo this week.

CALGARY — There were tears of sadness and joy at the Calgary Zoo this week.

Abena the lion and Patches, a black bear, died this week, but a baby giraffe was born.

Patches was 22 and was experiencing painful arthritis in her spine and joints that was no longer responding to medical treatment, so Jamie Dorgan, area manager, said the difficult decision to put her down was made on Tuesday.

Abena was 15 and had a number of collapsing incidents, and after an exam last summer could find no cause, zoo officials decided to do surgery to do a full exam of her heart.

But the lioness died during anaesthesia and an autopsy found she had a form of heart disease that was causing her to collapse.

In the midst of the grief, Carrie the giraffe gave birth early Wednesday, and Dorgan said the male calf — weighing in at a hefty 185 pounds and a height of seven feet, was up on his feet quickly and nursing well.

“It is always exciting and a happy occasion when there’s a successful birth,” Dorgan said. “However, as stewards who also care for an aging population of animals at the zoo, it’s our responsibility to continually monitor their quality of life as they get older.

“The sad reality we face is that as wild animals age, just like people or our domestic pets; sometimes they experience serious health issues.”