Ostrich at Topeka Zoo Dies After Ingesting Keeper's Keys

"We are devastated by the loss of Karen. She was not just an animal; she was a beloved member of our community," said Fawn Moser, the zoo's interim director

<p>Getty</p> Topeka Zoo


Topeka Zoo

A zoo in Kansas is mourning the death of an ostrich who died after ingesting a staff member's keys.

The Topeka Zoo explained in a Facebook post on Friday, April 19, that Karen was "a vibrant and beloved ostrich" who had been a part of the Giraffe & Friends exhibit since its opening in May 2023.

"The circumstances surrounding Karen's passing serve as a solemn reminder of the importance of vigilance and care in maintaining the safety of our animal inhabitants. In this instance, Karen reached beyond her exhibit fence to grab the keys of a staff member. She immediately swallowed the keys," the post read.

Zoo staff consulted with experts across the country to help Karen undergo surgical and non-surgical efforts to minimize the keys' impact.

"Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful," the zoo said.

<p>Alamy</p> Topeka Zoo


Topeka Zoo

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Calling the situation "tragic," The Topeka Zoo said it had conducted a thorough investigation into Karen's death and will be "taking appropriate actions regarding the team member involved."

The zoo is also set to review its current protocols "to further strengthen the safety measures in place for all its residents."

"The Topeka Zoo remains committed to ensuring the well-being of all our animals, implementing rigorous protocols to safeguard against such incidents in the future," it continued.

Karen was remembered "for her water-loving habits, like swimming in the pool, playing in the sprinkler" and being a "dancing queen."

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<p>Getty</p> Stock image of an ostrich


Stock image of an ostrich

The zoo said her "playful antics" captivated staff and guests, causing them to form "deep connections" with her. It noted that comments in its Facebook announcement would be monitored "in mindfulness of our staff and community."

In her own statement, Fawn Moser, Interim Director of the Topeka Zoo, said the entire community is "devastated by the loss of Karen."

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"She was not just an animal; she was a beloved member of our community. Our thoughts are with our dedicated animal care team, who formed deep bonds with Karen during her time with us," said Moser.

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