Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium Staff Mourn Loss of Three Beloved Animals in Recent Tragedies

PITTSBURGH, PA – The Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium faced a wave of sorrow and reflection as they announced the passing of three beloved animals within a short time frame. During a somber briefing, the zoo’s president and CEO, Jeremy Goodman, expressed the immense challenge and emotional toll the losses have had on the staff.

In an effort to allow the team to grieve, the zoo made the decision to close its doors temporarily. Goodman revealed that while the recent string of animal deaths may appear high, it falls within the expected range for a facility of its size. An informal audit indicated that the zoo typically experiences between 15 to 25 mammal deaths each year.

The passing of the 31-year-old silverback gorilla, Mrithi, the 2-year-old elephant calf, Tsuni, and the 18-year-old California sea lion, Hawk, left a deep impact on the staff and visitors alike. Mrithi and Hawk both succumbed to sedation during their diagnoses, while Tsuni fell victim to a fast-spreading elephant virus.

Reflecting on the nature of zoo life, Goodman likened it to human existence, where both joyous occasions and hardships are part of the journey. He emphasized the importance of prioritizing the mental well-being of the staff during such trying times, underscoring the necessity of providing space for emotional processing and support.

Prior to the briefing, Jill Nizan, director of conservation operations with American Humane, commended the Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium for upholding high standards of animal welfare and maintaining their certification for over seven years. Despite facing these recent losses, the zoo remains committed to its mission of conservation and education.

The American Association of Zoo Veterinarians in Jacksonville, Florida, stands ready to investigate zoo animal deaths, but as of the latest update, there have been no requests related to the Pittsburgh Zoo. The accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) serves as a gold standard for zoos worldwide, ensuring the safety and well-being of both animals and visitors.

As the Pittsburgh Zoo continues to navigate this challenging period, it remains dedicated to honoring the memory of the animals lost while upholding its commitment to excellence in animal care and conservation efforts. The outpouring of support from the community serves as a source of strength during these difficult times.