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"Vibrant and beloved ostrich" dies after swallowing zoo staffer's keys, Kansas zoo says

Karen, a "vibrant and beloved ostrich" at the Topeka Zoo, died after swallowing keys she nabbed from a staffer, the zoo announced on Facebook last week.

According to the zoo, Karen "reached beyond her exhibit fence" and got the keys off the staffer before "immediately swallowing the keys." The zoo tried both surgical and non-surgical fixes, but they were unsuccessful. Karen, a 5-year-old, was euthanized on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

"We are devastated by the loss of Karen," said Topeka Zoo interim Director Fawn Moser in a statement. "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."  

Zoo Ostrich Death
This image provided by the Topeka Zoo shows Karen, an ostrich at the Topeka Zoo in Topeka, Kansas. The 5-year-old ostrich was euthanized on Thursday, April 18, 2024, after grabbing and swallowing a zoo staff member's keys. Brea Schmidt/Topeka Zoo via AP

Karen arrived at the zoo in March of last year, when she became part of the newly opened Giraffe & Friends exhibit, the zoo said. The zoo described the attraction as "an interdisciplinary multi-species exhibit that transports guests to the Serengeti Plain"

The zoo said Karen was "known for her water loving habits, like swimming in the pool, playing in the sprinkler, and, best of all, being our 'dancing queen!'"

"Zoo guests and staff alike formed deep connections with her, captivated by her playful antics," the zoo added.

The zoo, located in Topeka, Kansas, is home to more than 300 animals and sees about 250,000 visitors per year, according to its website. 

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