Metro on Tuesday released a detailed summary of the investigative report conducted after the death of the orangutan Kutai. The investigation was prompted by an anonymous complaint and was conducted to establish the facts surrounding the event, not to evaluate medical decisions.
The summary was released after Willamette Week and The Oregonian sought a legal order requiring the release under Oregon public records law.
The investigation found evidence that while lapses in procedure and protocol could not be identified as the specific cause of any animal deaths, information about those lapses should have been more effectively reported. The investigation also found little follow up with staff to ensure that similar lapses did not contribute to animal care problems in the future.
“Our top priority at the zoo is animal care and welfare. We have a team of professionals who focus every day on taking care of more than 200 species and more than 1,700 individual animals,” said Teri Dresler, interim director of the zoo and general manager of Metro’s visitor venues. “Our commitment is widely evident. Where we can improve is communication and reporting protocols among management and our living collection staff.”
The investigation focused on the events surrounding and following the death earlier this year of the zoo’s 20-year-old orangutan, Kutai. The investigation concluded that pertinent facts were not included in reports to management, for example: anesthesia equipment was not effectively monitored, texting occurred during a medical procedure, and some medical equipment and supplies were either not readily available or not in working order.
“We are committed to providing the support and resources needed to provide for the best animal care and welfare possible. We need zoo staff to feel empowered to share their needs and concerns openly, honestly and frequently and we need to hold managers accountable for responding appropriately to those needs and concerns,” Dresler said.
“We took action in 2009 to improve management of the zoo’s capital construction program. An independent audit says we made great progress. We have acted already on the challenges identified in our investigation and will continue to do what is needed to fulfill the zoo’s vision and mission and to provide the best animal care and welfare we possibly can,” Dresler said.
Dresler said Metro will work with zoo staff, technical experts, the Oregon Zoo Foundation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and others to identify areas where better clarity, more resources or other changes may be needed. Dresler said details of next steps will be shared publicly as they are developed.
For more information contact Jim Middaugh at 503 797-1505 or [email protected].