Calif. zoo serval dies from AIDS-like disease

By BRETT CROXTON
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:08 PM PDT

Much is going on at the Moonridge Animal Park, though from curator Don Richardson’s cool demeanor, one would never know.

A new introduction has been made to the falcon exhibit, a 1-year-old Peregrine falcon from Ventura. The as-of-yet unnamed falcon was rescued after having one of his wings torn off by the fan belt of a car. Zoo officials said the bird may have crawled into the engine compartment for warmth. After being rescued from the car, the bird was taken to Ojai Raptor Center where he was given emergency medical treatment by a veterinarian. After spending almost eight weeks in rehabilitation, the falcon was brought to the Moonridge Zoo, where he is recovering nicely—minus one wing.

In other zoo news, Jumanji, a serval that had been at the zoo since 2004, has died. Jumanji died after being struck with Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia, an AIDS-like disease that causes the body’s cells to start attacking themselves. Though AIHA is not a sexually-transmitted disease like its human counterpart, it behaves in much the same manner, causing bodily deterioration and susceptibility to illness.

According to Richardson, the cause of the disease is in the genes of the animal, and it can onset at any time. Jumanji, 8, was given a blood transfusion from his pen-mate and fellow serval Cinnamon, but died three hours after the transfusion. There are no plans to replace Jumanji, and his absence is not affecting Cinnamon, Richardson said. “There was no real bond (between Cinnamon and Jumanji), so she’s not behaving differently. She’s closer with our male Arctic fox anyway,” he said.

Old Man, one of the zoo’s golden eagles, underwent successful cataract surgery, giving him back eyesight in one eye. The lens in his right eye was removed and he now sees everything upside down, Richardson said, because the lens is the part of the eye that flips the image for the brain.

After tests were completed, it was determined that Old Man’s left eye was beyond repair, and he will be blind in that eye for the remainder of his life. It will take Old Man a few weeks to get acclimated to seeing everything upside down, Richardson added, but once he does, he’ll be back to his normal routines. “We knew he could see when he tried to bite me,” Richardson said.

Even with all this hullabaloo around the zoo, officials found time to raise ticket prices. Admission prices go up to $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students effective Memorial Day weekend.

http://www.bigbeargrizzly.net/articles/2007/05/23/ sports/recreation/zoofalcon.txt

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