Orangutan's death detailed by Zoo

Credit: Oregon Zoo

Orangutan's death detailed by Zoo

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by Jeff Thompson and Sara Roth, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 9:34 AM

Updated Saturday, May 10 at 10:51 AM

PORTLAND -- A necropsy released Friday stated that an orangutan at the Oregon Zoo, whose death preceded the dismissal of the zoo's director and senior veterinarian, had died of bleeding from his lung. 

Kutai, a male Sumatran orangutan, died after a minor surgery on January 5, following an illness. He was 20 years old.

The zoo announced this week that zoo director Kim Smith had been replaced and that veterinarian Dr. Mitch Finnegan had also left the organization. When asked if the two were forced to leave, or specifically why they left, Metro said it was against their policy to comment further on personnel matters.

Details of a necropsy released Friday revealed the cause of death to be a pulmonary hemorrhage, or acute bleeding of the lung. Kutai also had congested lungs, a swollen liver, gall stones and pale kidneys.

Click here to read the full necropsy report

"We have very high standards for animal care and in the case of Kutai, and the care provided to Kutai, those standards were not met," said Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh. "Based on that information, we made appropriate changes."

Background: Oregon Zoo orangutan Kutai dies after illness

Metro also released a complete statement Thursday.

"We conducted a careful investigation of the circumstances surrounding Kutai’s death and concluded mistakes were made and important information was not fully disclosed," the Metro statement reads.

Click here for the complete statement

The agency did not provide specific details, but said the investigation found the following:

  • Standard operating procedures and best practices were not followed.
  • Lapses in procedures and protocols were tolerated.
  • There was a lack of trust regarding the accuracy of reports and whether important facts regarding animal care were omitted.

When news of Smith's departure was announced Monday, Metro said 10-year Oregon Zoo employee Teri Dresler stepped in to fill the role immediately. Existing veterinary staff teamed up to take over Finnegan's role.

Metro's policy is not to comment publicly on personnel matters, but the agency foreshadowed the Thursday announcement with this statement Monday:

In the coming weeks and months, the zoo and Metro leadership will engage stakeholders and the community in conversations about the zoo’s vision and mission.

The zoo has seen high turnover in recent years, with many people resigning, retiring or being let go.

Thursday morning's announcement also came just hours before a group called Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants planned a demonstration at Metro council chambers to protest the living conditions of Packy, the zoo's 52-year-old elephant.

More: Oregon Zoo protesters to pack Metro meeting

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