Activists urge zoo investigation after three-legged monkey dies

Activists urge zoo investigation after three-legged monkey dies »Play Video
Kyle in his exhibit after surgery in 2011. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

An animal right organization is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the recent death of a three-legged patas monkey named Kyle at the Woodland Park Zoo.

According to the organization In Defense of Animals (IDA), on Feb. 28, zoo staff removed Kyle from his exhibit, against the advice of zookeepers, by catching him in a net. While being caught, IDA claims the monkey fractured his femur, broke a tooth, cut his forehead and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

In a complaint to the Department of Agriculture, the IDA reports the injured monkey was kept in a kennel for two hours without medical attention before a veterinarian euthanized him.

"According to information we received from a Woodland Park Zoo employee, if zoo staff followed proper procedures, this monkey would likely be alive today," IDA spokesperson Nicole Meyer said. "Any report about animal suffering is disturbing, yet this case is especially egregious given the allegations that this monkey endured extremely painful life-threatening injuries and was left to languish for a prolonged period of time without medical intervention."

The Woodland Park Zoo issued a statement explaining Kyle was "accidentally injured" while being moved to a temporary holding enclosure so that his sleeping quarters could be modified to improve his care.

The zoo reports animal managers suspected he was hurt, but did not know how severe the injury was. Staff say veterinarians responded to Kyle after finishing another medical procedure.

Based on his injuries, the zoo reports veterinarians determined Kyle's quality of life would be severely compromised if he lived and decided to humanely euthanize him.

"He had fractured his leg and it was serious and it would have compromised the quality of life," said zoo spokeswoman Gigi Allianic.

IDA alleges the zoo violated multiple provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including improper handling of an animal and failure to provide adequate veterinary care.

The organization is urging the Department of Agriculture to investigate Kyle’s death and ensure that the social needs of three surviving female patas monkey are being met.

"The last hours of this monkey's life were full of terror and pain,” Meyer said. “This reported case demonstrates a disturbing lack of respect, empathy, and compassion for a vulnerable animal and raises the question of whether other similar cases at the Woodland Park Zoo never see the light of day."

Kyle was 8 years old when he died. Patas monkeys are expected to live 15 to 20 years in captivity, according to the Woodland Park Zoo’s website.

Veterinarians amputated Kyle’s right, front leg in 2011 after he developed a serious infection in his right shoulder.

Kyle (left) with partner Alexa in 2011. Photo by Anne Nichols/Woodland Park Zoo.