Topeka Zoo Mourns Tragic Death of Beloved Ostrich due to Ingested Keys


In a heartrending incident, the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center in Kansas mourns the loss of its cherished friend, a five-year-old ostrich affectionately known as Karen. It was confirmed on Friday via a social media post from the zoo, that Karen passed away after accidentally ingesting an employee’s keys.

In an unfortunate moment of curiosity exceeding caution, Karen reached beyond the confines of her exhibit, clutching and subsequently consuming a set of keys lost by an unsuspecting staff member. The zoo staff, swinging into immediate action, sought expert opinions from across the nation, exploring both surgical and non-invasive options in a valiant attempt to alleviate the harm the keys could cause.

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Regrettably, notwithstanding their strenuous efforts, the strategies employed to retrieve the keys were to no avail. Karen was ultimately euthanized on a fateful Thursday, her last breath drawn in the caring grasp of the animal handlers she had come to trust.

Fawn Moser, the Interim Director of Topeka Zoo, expressed her deep sorrow in an email statement. “We are devastated by the loss of Karen,” stated Moser. “She was not merely an animal — she was a beloved member of our community.” She further sent her thoughts to the dedicated staff who had cultivated profound emotional bonds with Karen over the years she was with them.

Karen, fondly remembered for her playful splashes in water and her delightfully charming antics leading her to be recognized as their irreplaceable “dancing queen,” had been a staple at the zoo since March 2023. Her absence leaves a palpable void that will be hard to fill.

The zoo assured its followers that an investigation has been initiated, focusing on rectifying the lapse that led to this tragic loss. Invoking the seriousness of the event, the zoo “is taking appropriate actions regarding the team member involved.” Moreover, it pledged to conduct a systematic review of existing safety protocols and implement necessary enhancements to ensure the utmost safety of its animals going forward.

The Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center, a trusted refuge for over 300 fascinating creatures dwelling in an impressive expanse of 35 acres, continues to carry out its animal conservation endeavors despite this devastating setback.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.