The Tulsa Zoo today celebrates the birthday of 31-year-old Wheezy, believed to be the oldest living Cape Buffalo in human care. Wheezy received a special treat of golden rain tree browse and sweet potatoes to commemorate the occasion.
Based on information available in North American and European studbooks, the next oldest Cape Buffalo on record is 29 ¾.
Wheezy was born on Sept. 24, 1982, in Kings Island Wild Animal Habitat in Ohio. Known as a fiercely protective mother, Wheezy went on to have 15 calves.
“She scared the pants off many keepers, including myself, by getting her head and front legs over stall walls during neonatal exams in an effort to get her baby back,” says zookeeper Eric Flossic, who has cared for Wheezy for the past 12 years. “Her demeanor has mellowed considerably since she is no longer in protective mom mode.”
Wheezy, the Tulsa Zoo’s lone Cape Buffalo, is no longer viewable on exhibit. She is living in retirement, having been transitioned to a quiet space in the back of the zoo, Flossic says.
“Our staff treats every day we get with her as the special gift it is,” he says.