Zoo temporarily closes to public

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lee Richardson Zoo temporarily closed to the public on April 1, until further notice. The staff will continue to provide care for the zoo animals during this time. Staff invites residents to keep up to date on the zoo’s website and Facebook page.

On Tuesday, Yelena, an elderly Asian wild horse, was showing signs of neurological problems.  After a veterinary assessment, the decision was made to euthanize her.  The necropsy revealed bleeding in the brain.  Yelena was the oldest Asian wild horse in North America, celebrating her 35th birthday four days earlier.  The median life expectancy for the species, also called Przewalski’s horse, is 17.9 years.

“She may have been old, but she kept up with the other two.  Watching her trot across the yard always put a smile on my face,” Animal Care Manager Pablo Holguin said.  “It always made me laugh when she would lay down for her afternoon nap.  I’d call her name, and she’d flick her ears.  Nothing or no one was going to interrupt her nap.  Zoo staff will miss her.”

Yelena arrived at Lee Richardson Zoo on November 1, 2016 with Berezhnei, a male, now 23 years old, from Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, N.D.  He still resides at the zoo, along with Ibaqa, a 12-year-old female.

This species has never been domesticated and was once extinct in the wild.  Thanks to captive populations in Europe and the United States, the Asian wild horse is being reestablished in its native habitat in Mongolia and China.