COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Staff at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo said goodbye to a beloved moose last weekend who was just shy of his 13th birthday.
Due to chronic arthritis pain and other conditions that could no longer be controlled with medication, the zoo's animal care team made the decision to humanely euthanize Tahoma the moose last weekend.
According to zoo staff, Tahoma came to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo as a 10-month-old calf and immediately started making connections with guests in the Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit.
The zoo said Tahoma spent nearly his entire life inspiring guests and staff at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and he will be remembered by those whose hearts he touched.
“Like many of our animal teammates at the zoo, even him being here was a bit of a miracle that the people of Colorado Springs might not know,” said Bob Chastain, president and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “While you might get lucky and see moose in the wilds of Colorado, seeing how amazing they are up close in a safe environment is a rare treat.”
Tahoma encouraged people to do things like buy a hunting or fishing license, pay state park entrance fees, reduce mining by recycling, save water and contribute to conservation efforts, the zoo said. And each year, thousands of people looked forward to guessing the weight of his antlers in Tahoma’s Annual Antler Weigh-In.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo said it is one of only eight AZA-accredited institutions in the U.S. to house moose, and because moose are so rare in human care, there was little known about how to best care for them until recently. Tahoma helped zoo staff pioneer moose care practices like formulating nutritious moose diets, blood tests and hoof care.
The zookeepers who knew him best said there was something special about Tahoma and that he had a way of inspiring and connecting people.
“All of our animals make an impact in their own way, but Tahoma took it above and beyond,” said Rebecca Zwicker, animal care manager in Rocky Mountain Wild. “Before Tahoma, I never would have considered myself a ‘moose person,’ but he had me within the first minute of meeting him.
Although the zoo was closed to the public on Tahoma’s last days, he was visited by his zoo colleagues from every department who were able to say goodbye.
“We showered him with love on his last few days,” said Zwicker. “It’s always a difficult decision, but we loved him too much to let the pain last. I’ve been thinking of our guests and how much they’re going to miss him, but want them all to know that he didn’t go out without any fanfare.”
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