Animal dies at Topeka Zoo after ‘puzzling behavior’

TOPEKA (KSNT) –  Raul, a five-year-old Addra Gazelle, died Monday in his exhibit at the Topeka Zoo.  Native to the Sahara Desert region of Africa, Addra Gazelles are critically endangered.  The Antelope Taxon Advisory Group manages the Topeka Zoo’s population of this species.

At approximately 1:40 p.m. Monday, a zoo guest reported seeing the gazelle running from corner to corner in his exhibit.  He then charged a gate leading to an auxiliary yard three times.  On the last hit, the animal broke his neck.  Zoo staff ran to the scene, but as they entered the exhibit to help, the gazelle had already died.

At this point, it is unclear what triggered Raul’s behavior.  The other gazelle housed with Raul seemed unconcerned by what had occurred around him.  Zoo officials hope to learn more from a necropsy and pathology evaluation.  Results of those evaluations won’t be back to the zoo for another 10 to 14 days.

“We are saddened by the loss of this gazelle and are determined to learn as much as we possibly can about what caused this incident,” Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said.  “Our hearts go out to the staff that worked closely with Raul, and to the guests who witnessed the ordeal.”

An estimated 500 gazelles of this species are left in the wild.  The Topeka Zoo is one of 20 North American zoos working with the species through a Species Survival Plan with the hopes that one day, gazelles bred in North America can be returned back to the wild.

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