Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good-bye Harriet

The zoo lost a longtime member of its collection last Thursday. Harriet the Caribbean flamingo had been at Como Zoo since 1970. She was an adult when she arrived here, making her over 40 years old! Harriet is quite famous in the medical world having survived several bouts of cancer resulting in both of her middle toes being amputated. She also went through radiation treatment at the University of Minnesota as part of her cancer treatment. Veterinarians and zoo keepers alike were unsure if she was going to be able to stand and walk when her first toe was amputated in 1999, but Harriet proved to be a trooper and was put back in with the rest of the flamigo flock once her wounds healed. When the cancer came back in her other foot in 2002, again it was unsure if she would be able to stand now that both middle toes were removed, but again Harriet proved to be a tough bird and was once again reunited with the flock. In 2003 we discovered cancer in the inner toe of her right foot. Since she would not be able to stand with only one toe, Harriet went through a series of radiation treatments at the University of Minnesota to reduce the size of the tumor in her foot. She again was returned to the flock. Recently though, zoo keepers had noticed a decrease in Harriet's appetite as well as difficulty standing. Bloodwork showed a systemic infection as well as an abnormality in her heart. After much discussion, the decision was made to put her down. To try to cure her of the problems she was facing would have caused her too much stress as well as a lifetime of treatment and never getting to go out to the Bird Yard again. We are all sad to lose Harriet, she was a great bird and will be missed.

Photo by Jennifer Gleason

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