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Ostrich dies at Kansas zoo after swallowing zookeeper’s keys

The bird, named Karen, was a beloved member of the Topeka Zoo who loved swimming and playing in the sprinkler.
Karen the ostrich - Topeka Zoo
Posted at 9:26 AM, Apr 23, 2024

A Kansas zoo is mourning the loss of one of its beloved ostriches who died of complications after swallowing a zookeeper’s keys.

Topeka Zoo said the bird, named Karen, was one of the community’s favorites.

“Karen had been an adored resident since the opening of ‘Giraffe & Friends’ in March of 2023, was known for her water-loving habits, like swimming in the pool, playing in the sprinkler, and, best of all, being our ‘dancing queen!’ Zoo guests and staff alike formed deep connections with her, captivated by her playful antics,” Topeka Zoo wrote in a Facebook post.

The incident happened when Karen reached behind her exhibit fence to grab the keys of a zookeeper, and immediately swallowed them, the zoo said.

The zoo said it consulted with experts across the country for surgical and non-surgical efforts to minimize the impact of the keys. Unfortunately, the efforts were not successful and Karen succumbed to her injuries.

"We are devastated by the loss of Karen," Fawn Moser, interim director of Topeka Zoo, said in the zoo’s Facebook post. "She was not just an animal; she was a beloved member of our community. Our thoughts are with our dedicated animal care team, who formed deep bonds with Karen during her time with us."

The zoo said it launched an investigation into the incident and is taking “appropriate actions regarding the team member involved.”

Topeka Zoo said it will implement protocols to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future and is taking steps to enhance safety measures for all of its residents.