St. Louis Public Radio News
6:34 am
Mon March 2, 2009

USDA inspector visits Saint Louis Zoo after ape dies

St. Louis, MO –

A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector visited the St. Louis Zoo on Monday to look into the death of an eight-year-old gorilla. Muchana died on Saturday after becoming entangled in recreational ropes in his sleeping area.

The Zoo's Dr. Eric Miller says Muchana's death was the result of an accident.

"We'll be re-evaluating the great apes. Right now we don't see anything that was preventable. And, to not give enrichment, it's like kids not going outside. We'll certainly look at it very critically, but to keep things with no risk would be to put animals in a sterile cage."

Miller says the Zoo contacted the USDA on Saturday after keepers discovered the dead animal. He says the inspector will write up a report, and could return for another visit.

This is the fourth incident at the Zoo in recent weeks. In February, a chimpanzee died of unknown causes and two elephants contracted herpes.