KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A zebra died Saturday after colliding with a fence at a Tennessee zoo, officials said.
According to a Facebook post from Zoo Knoxville, Lydia, a 7-year-old Hartmann’s mountain zebra, died from her injuries.
Zoo spokesperson Tina Rolen told WVLT-TV that first responders were called to an area in front of the zebra habitat after a person was having a medical emergency. An ambulance was summoned but did not turn on its siren because zoo officials were concerned that the animals might react.
Officials originally were going to move the zebras from the area but changed their minds after the animals appeared to be calm, the Facebook post stated.
However, eight minutes after the ambulance left the area, Lydia bolted and ran into a containment fence, WBIR-TV reported.
Zoo staff members immediately began moving the other zebras into a corral so they could approach Lydia, the Facebook post stated. However, the animal was dead when officials reached her.
Preliminary necropsy results showed that Lydia died immediately due to neck trauma.
“Our top priority is the safety of our guests, employees, and animals. We regularly drill for emergencies to be prepared for every conceivable scenario to ensure positive outcomes. Sadly, despite all our efforts yesterday to care for our people and our animals we had a tragic accident occur,” Lisa New, president and CEO of the zoo, said in a statement. “While we did everything we could to balance the need for emergency treatment for our employee and keeping our zebra stable in the process, we were still dealing with wild animals that reacted as such. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult situation for everyone and we appreciate the compassion our guests showed us as this unfolded yesterday.”
Lydia was one of four mountain zebras in the zoo’s herd, WATE-TV reported. She came to the zoo in April 2018, according to the television station.
It was not the first time a zebra died after crashing into a fence. In 2021, Wiley, a 5-year-old female, collided with a corral fence while being prepared for a veterinary procedure, zoo officials said.
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