The Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City announced Thursday that they had put down their 13-year-old Llama named Nitro.
The Zoo said on their Facebook, “By far, the most difficult part of being an animal care specialist is providing end-of-life care. Today was no exception when the Washington Park Zoo lost our beloved Llama, Nitro. Nitro had been ill and under veterinary care since June 19th.
“Nitro first seemed to have a mild lameness in mid-June and later showed a decrease in activity and appetite. Despite the week of supportive care and medications, his health continued to fail to the point that his comfort, quality of life, and hopes for recovery had been exhausted, so our team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Nitro today, so his welfare did not suffer. He passed peacefully, in the presence of his animal care team.
“Nitro was born here at the WPZoo on September 30, 2008, and was hand-reared by zoo staff when his mother failed to care for him.
“Nitro was a favorite among everyone who visited the Red Barn due to his huge personality. He will always be remembered for his unique “raspberry” vocalization and sniffs as he greeted guests. He loved playing with his large enrichment barrel and his wading pool on hot summer days.
“According to the zoological journals, Llamas in captivity generally live for 15–25 years, with an average of about 20 years. While there are no more truly wild llamas, some are left to free-range in large areas, and these animals tend to have slightly shorter lifespans due to injury or disease. As veterinary care and animal husbandry advance, geriatric care is becoming an increasing emphasis in zoos. It is especially important at the Washington Park Zoo because many of the animals are rescues and we have some elder residence including a 38-year Capuchin, 18-year-old Bobcat, and even our Bengal Tigers and Grizzly Bears are in their late teens.
“Animal care staff members often spend more time with the animals under their care than their own human family members. Our entire staff feels the heartbreak and loss of every animal, but we are comforted in knowing that Nitro and the other animals here are well-loved and given the best care during their time here at the Washington Park Zoo.”
Visitors of the zoo have sent their condolences along with pictures of Nitro in the comments.