Ostrich at Kansas zoo dies after swallowing staff member’s keys

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TOPEKA, Kan. — A beloved ostrich at the Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center in Kansas has died after swallowing a staff member’s keys.
The zoo announced in a social media post Friday that the 5-year-old ostrich named Karen had reached beyond her exhibit’s fence and grabbed and swallowed the employee’s keys. Staff consulted with experts around the U.S. “to undergo surgical and non-surgical efforts to minimize the impact of the keys. Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful,” the zoo said.
Karen was euthanized Thursday and “passed away in staff’s hands,” Topeka Zoo Interim Director Fawn Moser said in an email.
“We are devastated by the loss of Karen,” Moser said in a statement. “She was not just an animal; she was a beloved member of our community. Our thoughts are with our dedicated animal care team, who formed deep bonds with Karen during her time with us.”
The adored ostrich had been at the zoo since March 2023. She was known for her love of playing in water “and, best of all, being our ‘dancing queen!’” the zoo said.
The zoo said it undertook an investigation and “is taking appropriate actions regarding the team member involved.” The zoo also said it would review and enhance safety protocols for its animals.
The Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center is home to more than 300 animals exhibited throughout 35 acres, according to its website.

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