KNOXVILLE, Tenn – Zoo Knoxville is grappling with the tragic loss of another zebra this week, marking the fourth zebra death at the facility within the past three years.
Mosi, a three-year-old Hartmann’s mountain zebra, succumbed to injuries sustained while running with his herd-mate Rosie on Wednesday, February 7. The zoo reported that Mosi died instantly from a broken neck, as confirmed by a necropsy conducted at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Andrew Cushing, a UTCVM clinical associate professor and zoological medicine specialist, highlighted the strong flight instinct of zebras, which can lead to sudden movements and accidents. Despite efforts to create a suitable habitat, including modifications to remove potential hazards, unforeseen incidents can still occur.
The zoo assured that the habitat met all safety and care standards set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Following a previous incident in 2023 involving the death of zebra Lydia, perimeter barriers were adjusted to enhance visibility for the animals.
Phil Colclough, director of animal care, conservation, and education at Zoo Knoxville, expressed the team’s sorrow over Mosi’s loss and emphasized the difficulty of preventing such accidents. The zoo is conducting an investigation into the circumstances leading to Mosi’s injury and is exploring measures to mitigate future risks.
Mosi, born in December 2020 at Zoo Knoxville, was the offspring of Lydia and Die Toekoms, who passed away in October 2023 due to complications from a torsion.
This incident follows the death of another zebra in 2021, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by the zoo in ensuring the safety and well-being of its animal residents.