We'll miss you, buddy.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo had to say goodbye to one of its most beloved animals last weekend. Tahoma, who was almost 13 years old, was humanely euthanized after his quality of life had deteriorated due to chronic illness.
"This weekend, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo family said a difficult goodbye to Tahoma, our well-loved friend and colleague in the fight to save wildlife. Less than two weeks shy of his 13th birthday, due to chronic arthritis pain and other conditions that could no longer be controlled with medication and treatments, Tahoma’s care team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him. He passed peacefully on a soft bed of cedar shavings, surrounded by his loving keepers and vet staff. Tahoma spent nearly his entire life inspiring guests and staff at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and he will be remembered forever by those whose hearts he touched," said the zoo on its Facebook page.
According to CMZoo, Tahoma came to the zoo as a 10-month-old calf and immediately began making connections with guests in the newly opened Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit. The zoo was one of the only accredited zoos in the U.S. to have a moose among its residents. Because of that, not much was known about caring for moose, and Tahoma helped zoo keepers develop the best set of practices. He also gave people a chance to see an animal that often can usually only be seen from afar.
"Like many of our animal teammates at the Zoo, even him being here was a bit of a miracle that the people of Colorado Springs might not know," said Bob Chastain, president and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. "While you might get lucky and see moose in the wilds of Colorado, seeing how amazing they are up close in a safe environment is a rare treat."
Tahoma made a huge impact on all who he came in contact with, keepers and visitors alike. He often drew big crowds of people to his habitat, and he enjoyed getting up close and personal with his adoring fans. People loved to guess the weight of his antlers at his yearly weigh-in, and he even inspired a few tattoos.
"Tahoma had this special way of connecting with people," said Basia Dann, Rocky Mountain Wild animal keeper. "It was like he knew when we were busy and he needed to 'work' a little harder to reach more people. We would find huge crowds of people admiring him on busy days. He would position himself really close to people and create those opportunities for us to answer questions about moose and teach people about him to foster those important connections. That's our job, and he was really good at it."
His keeper of 10 years, Rebecca Zwicker, animal care manager in Rocky Mountain Wild, wants to let those that enjoyed visiting him know that he was well-loved right up until the end.
"We showered him with love on his last few days," said Zwicker. "It's always a difficult decision, but we loved him too much to let the pain last. I've been thinking of our guests and how much they're going to miss him, but want them all to know that he didn't go out without any fanfare."
You can read the CMZoo's tribute to this beloved animal on its website.