Officials with the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium are investigating after the death of one of their impalas last week.
On Wednesday, November 21, keepers responded immediately to a report that there was an impala in the elephant pool. When they arrived, the animal was found lying, unconscious, next to a shallow wallow. Keepers called veterinary staff for assistance as they were moving the impala to an off-exhibit area, where it died shortly after.
Upon review of video footage, officials say it appears that the impala engaged the hot wire in their habitat for a short period of time, freed itself, then rejoined the herd and appeared to be okay. Roughly 30 minutes after the incident, the impala suddenly collapsed. Hot wire, used routinely in agriculture with cattle and horses, is used within zoos as an additional safety measure to enhance and protect barriers. Officials say typically, after initial testing by the animal, engagement with the hot wire is uncommon. Animal death from engaging with hot wire is extremely rare and to staff's knowledge, has not happened at the zoo in the last 45 years.
The male impala was seven years old and arrived at Wildlife Safari Park in April of 2015 before being moved to the African Grasslands exhibit in June of 2016. He was in the habitat with two male impalas and three zebras. There are 14 impalas, five male and nine females, remaining at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
Initial necropsy findings were very non-specific and didn’t allude to why the animal died. At this time, the cause of death is still under investigation. Officals are waiting on a full histopathology report, which should provide staff with more information. Those results are expected take about three weeks.