Los Angeles Zoo Animals Euthanized

Nubian ibex

The Los Angeles Zoo has just confirmed that it euthanized all of its Nubian ibex last month amid a deadly disease outbreak. Several ibex had contracted malignant catarrhal fever and quickly died. Officials made the difficult decision to euthanize the rest of the ibex in the herd in order to prevent the illness from spreading to other animals in the zoo.

Malignant catarrhal fever, or MCF, is an incurable, fatal disease that develops from a type of herpes virus. Experts have assured people that this particular virus is not contagious to humans. However, many other hoofed animals would have been susceptible. The zoo could not risk the virus spreading to them.

The Nubian ibex is a type of goat that lives in northeastern Africa and the Middle East. They are not endangered, but they are classified as being vulnerable; there are roughly 1,200 of them in the wild.

Regardless of the ibex's conservation status, the zoo would probably not have been able to make any other decision. Malignant catarrhal fever is extremely lethal and contagious, and there would have been no way to save the ibex. There was also nowhere safe to send the ibex to be quarantined; transporting them would have increased the risk of spreading the disease to other animals. Officials did not say how the illness might have arrived at the zoo in the first place. They also did not say exactly how many animals were in the herd that was euthanized.

The zoo has determined that there are no traces of the virus left at the zoo, so there is no further risk to the other hoofed mammals. The loss of the ibex is tragic, but zoo officials know that they made the right decision. Unfortunately, sometimes one has to choose between the lesser of two evils. If the ibex had not been put down, the zoo may have had a major epidemic on its hands, potentially losing many more animals to this awful disease.