Yesterday we said goodbye to our beloved African Cape buffalo, Wheezy. At the age of 34, she was the oldest documented African Cape buffalo in human care. Animal Health and Animal Care staff determined that Wheezy’s quality of life had significantly diminished due to complications from multiple geriatric conditions. To honor her at the end of her life, and to ensure she did not suffer, staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Wheezy yesterday.
Wheezy was loved by everyone at the zoo. She was often referred to as “Mama,” as she was known for being a fiercely protective mother in her younger days. While she lived in retirement, she would sometimes choose to explore the public portion of her home in the Mary K. Chapman Rhino Reserve. Zoo staff would gather around her exhibit just to get the chance to see her. Our zoo family is grateful that we were given the chance to know and care for her for so many years.
Zookeeper Eric Flossic cared for Wheezy for more than 15 years. Read his tribute to her below.
“As a zookeeper, your animals become a second family. Like a proud parent, you watch them grow and even have kids. You spend holidays with them, you think about their well-being when you’re away from work. For the past 15 years Wheezy was the queen of my zoo family. I feel very honored and blessed to have been able to share so much time with her. She will be missed greatly by all who had the chance to know her. Rest easy, Big Mama. You were truly a once in a lifetime animal to work with.”