Tulsa Zoo is saddened to announce our African painted dog Kasama was humanely euthanized on Friday, July 21. At 11 years old, Kasama was considered geriatric. She was the second oldest of her species in Association of Zoos and Aquariums care.
Keepers enjoyed jogging along the fence line to engage with Kasama, training her and connecting guests with her to teach them about African Painted Dogs. When asked about Kasama they said, “We will miss seeing her large ears moving around as she was being called inside, but know that we were lucky to have the opportunity to work with Kasama during her time at the Tulsa Zoo.”
Kasama had been diagnosed with kidney disease and Degenerative Myelopathy, which causes muscle atrophy in the rear and rear limb weakness. Our animal care staff had been carefully monitoring her quality of life, in particular watching for decreases in mobility and appetite, as well as changes in temperament.
Kasama was born at Sedgwick County Zoo on Nov. 23, 2011. She and sisters Shiyane and Nyika were the first African painted dogs to call Tulsa Zoo home. The trio moved to Tulsa Zoo in 2012; the zoo officially opened its African painted dog exhibit in 2013.
The keepers additionally shared that when Kasama was younger, she and her sisters had a tight pack and would often be seen laying down in their habitat together. Kasama played an important role among her sisters in group training sessions and the group dynamic. As she got older, she spent most of her day moving between her favorite shady spots in her habitat. She loved tearing through boxes and paper bags to find her bone or meatballs and carrying her frozen treats around the yard before finding the perfect spot to enjoy them.
African painted dogs, known in some regions as African wild dogs or painted wolves, are the last remaining species of a unique ancient lineage of canine. Sometimes confused with hyenas, the painted dog is recognizable with its huge ears, long legs, mottled coat pattern, white-tufted tail, and squeaky bird-like calls.
International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species lists African wild dogs as endangered with declining populations. The primary threats are human-wildlife conflict and transmission of infectious disease caused by habitat fragmentation.
The zoo will bring back African painted dogs with the opening of the William S. Smith African Wilds complex, which should be complete by 2026.