Adelaide Zoo is celebrating the life of Susie, the oldest female hippo currently on record in the world.
The difficult decision was made to humanely put Susie to sleep on Thursday, 20 July, as she had a number of significant age-related conditions which were limiting her movement and ultimately affecting her quality of life.
Zoos SA Veterinarian Dr David McLelland said at 49 years old, Susie was well at the upper limit of average life expectancy for hippos.
“Over the past few months, Susie had been suffering from a number of age-related conditions which our veterinary team were monitoring closely and treating,” Dr McLelland said.
“Sadly, over the past few weeks, Susie’s condition deteriorated and the veterinary team decided there was no further treatment that would improve her quality of life.
“To reach almost 50 is a good age for a hippo and a testament to the care provided to her over the years.
“Although saying goodbye to Susie was difficult, it was the right thing to do for her.”
Zoos SA Chief Executive Elaine Bensted said Susie had captured the hearts of zoo staff, volunteers and visitors during her 42 years at Adelaide Zoo.
“We were incredibly lucky to have Susie with us for so long,” Ms Bensted said.
“Her remarkably long-life demonstrates the exceptional care she received from Adelaide Zoo’s dedicated keeping and vet teams.
“Susie will be dearly missed by everyone who had the chance to work with her, and of course by the generations of visitors who came to see our iconic friend.”
Ms Bensted said the longevity of so many of Adelaide Zoo’s animals was a true testament to the care provided by our staff.
“We have said goodbye to some iconic Adelaide Zoo residents over the last six months, but with more than 2,500 animals calling Adelaide Zoo home and a number of aged animals who have well and truly exceeded their life expectancy, the death of aged animals is unfortunately to be expected,” Ms Bensted said.
“It’s always sad to say goodbye to one of our loved animals, but there is also lots to look forward to with many births and arrivals on the horizon for both Adelaide and Monarto Zoo.
“As a conservation charity, we’re proud to have celebrated a number of significant breeding milestones over the past year.
“At Adelaide Zoo, we’ve welcomed a critically endangered White-cheeked Gibbon infant, a cheeky baboon baby, and critically endangered Golden-lion Tamarins, and of course we have recently welcomed our adorable giraffe calves and Cheetah cubs at Monarto Zoo.”
Susie was born at Taronga Zoo in 1967 and moved to Adelaide Zoo in 1975 with her mate, Brutus, who is the oldest hippo in Australia and still lives at Adelaide Zoo.
Together, the remarkable pair welcomed six calves, with their three-year-old great granddaughter Zawadi keeping Susie’s incredible legacy alive at Werribee Open Range Zoo in Victoria.
After a full post-mortem examination, Susie’s remains will be donated to the University of Adelaide for medical research.