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Lydia the zebra dies after colliding with fence at Zoo Knoxville

Lydia, who was 7 years old, was one of four mountain zebras in the zoo’s herd who came to the zoo in April 2018.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Zoo Knoxville announced the death of Lydia, a 7-year-old Hartmann's mountain zebra, due to injuries she sustained after colliding with a fence Saturday, April 22, according to a release from Zoo Knoxville. 

Lydia was one of four mountain zebras in the zoo’s herd who came to the zoo in April 2018.  

On Saturday afternoon, first responders were called to treat a medical emergency that required ambulance access to the guest pathway in front of the zebra habitat, Zoo Knoxville said. 

Staff saw the zebras were reactive to the ambulance and moved them from the area of the habitat in proximity to the first responders.  The zebra had calmed and the assessment was made that they could remain in the habitat, according to the release. 

Approximately eight minutes after the ambulance left the area, Lydia unexpectedly bolted and collided with a containment fence, Zoo Knoxville said. 

Zoo staff immediately began emergency animal protocols, which involved moving the other zebra into a corral so they could safely approach Lydia.  

Despite the rapid response by the zoo staff and the veterinarians from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM), Lydia was dead when they reached her, according to the release. 

According to the preliminary necropsy results, it showed she died instantaneously due to trauma to the neck.          

“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,” Lisa New, the president and CEO of Zoo Knoxville, said.  “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.”    

In 2021, Zoo Knoxville experienced a similar loss when Wiley, a 5-year-old female zebra, collided with a corral fence while being prepped for a veterinary procedure.

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