Ostrich named Karen at Kansas zoo dies after grabbing staff member’s keys, swallowing them

Topeka Zoo and Conservation in Kansas announced Friday that an ostrich died.

TOPEKA, Kan. — Topeka Zoo and Conservation in Kansas announced Friday that an ostrich died after grabbing and then swallowing a staff member’s keys.

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The zoo said she “succumbed to complications arising from consuming a foreign object,” according to WIBW.

The zoo said that the ostrich, named Karen, had “reached beyond her exhibit fence” to get a staff member’s keys. She swallowed them immediately. Staff at the zoo spoke with experts to try surgical and non-surgical options to extricate the keys out but unfortunately, Karen passed away.

“We are devastated by the loss of Karen,” said Fawn Moser, interim director of the Topeka Zoo. “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.”

Karen had been a resident of the zoo since it opened the Giraffe & Friends area in March 2023, WIBW reported. She was known for her love of water.

The zoo said that the circumstances behind her death “serve as a solemn reminder of the importance of vigilance and care in maintaining the safety of our animal inhabitants,” according to the news station.

The zoo is planning to review its protocols to ensure there are stronger safety measures in place for the animals at the zoo.

“The Topeka Zoo extends its deepest gratitude to the community for their outpouring of support during this difficult time,” the zoo said.

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