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No cause found for Utah zoo's zebra deaths

Posted - Mar. 18, 2010 at 3:46 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Officials at Utah's Hogle Zoo will probably never know why two zebras died suddenly in January.

Zoo officials said Thursday that a series of tests -- along with in-depth analysis of the zebras' food, water and intestinal contents -- to determine the cause of death have all come back inconclusive, leaving zoo officials without any real answers.

The first Grevy's zebra, Taji, died Jan. 26 without signs of distress. Staff found the second zebra, Monty, in distress the next morning and began treatment. He was euthanized later that day.

Zoo spokeswoman Holly Braithwaite says zoo staff are frustrated that no cause of death was determined.

"There was nothing that was found that would suggest anything could have led to the death of the those zebras and it's very frustrating, very unfortunate and very sad and hard on the staff," she said.

Braithwaite says no further tests on the animals are expected.

Taji and Monty came to Utah in 1998. Grevy's zebras are native to Africa and are considered endangered. Taji was born in 1995 and Monty in 1997. They were in the mid-teens in age, which is young, considering most zebras live well into their 20s.

The zoo is hoping to have zebras back here in a few years. It will break ground for a new exhibit that will feature polar bears and other arctic animals later this year. That exhibit isn't scheduled to open to the public until 2012.

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Story compiled with contributions from the Associated Press and Sam Penrod .

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