A female Eld’s deer named Rachel who lived at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute was humanely euthanized last week. At nine years old, she was middle-aged.
She had been paired to breed with a male as part of an AZA Species Survival Plan recommendation. To replicate natural social structure, she was in a breeding group with the male and three other females.
Several weeks ago, animal care staff observed Rachel favoring a foot and limping. Staff separated her from the group, provided veterinary care, and continued to monitor her condition. Recent veterinary assessment showed that she had additional ligament and bone damage with little opportunity for improvement. These conditions and her declining quality of life led the animal care team to recommend humane euthanasia.
The preliminary results from the necropsy, which is an animal autopsy, found an unusual abscess of unknown origin. The abscess may have been the root cause for Rachel’s lameness. Animal care staff continue to monitor the health and welfare of all animals and to provide outstanding veterinary care. Eld’s deer, also called brow-antlered deer, are an endangered species native to south and southeast Asia.