Gondar, our male Speke’s gazelle, has passed away.

The life and health challenges of Gondar, a male Speke’s gazelle at the Akron Zoo
– The medical and surgical intervention led by specialized veterinary teams to rehabilitate Gazelles
– The impact of captivity on the quality of life and conservation of endangered species
– Insights into the challenges faced by zoos in maintaining animal health and welfare
– The broader implications of Gondar’s life for wildlife conservation efforts and zoo management practices

The story of Gondar, a male Speke’s gazelle housed at the Akron Zoo, beautifully illustrates the intersection of zoology, veterinary medicine, and wildlife conservation in modern zoo management. Gondar’s journey from being severely injured to becoming an active and joyful member of his habitat highlights the resilience of this species and the comprehensive care and dedication of zoo staff and veterinary teams involved in wildlife rehabilitation.

Speke’s gazelles, being one of the smaller antelope species native to the Horn of Africa, face significant survival challenges both in the wild and in captivity. The balance of catering to their physiological needs while ensuring their psychological well-being is delicate. The account of Gondar’s health, leg fracture, subsequent surgical intervention, and recovery exemplifies the advanced medical care and rehabilitation practices implemented in zoos to support these delicate creatures.

The surgery to fix Gondar’s fractured leg involved placing an external ring fixator. This sophisticated procedure demands high skill levels and an in-depth understanding of gazelle anatomy and biomechanics. The collaboration between Akron Zoo’s veterinary staff and Dr. Mark Daye from Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital signifies the specialized nature of veterinary practices needed to treat such specific wildlife cases effectively. Post-surgery, months of dedicated treatment and rehabilitation enabled Gondar to recover significantly, suggesting the effective adaptation of human medical techniques to veterinary purposes.

Lauren McKenna, the animal care manager, speaks to the profound bond and learning experiences shared with Gondar. This narrative underscores the emotional and intellectual rewards of working closely with wildlife, offering an enriching perspective on the roles of those who dedicate their lives to animal care and conservation. Her reflections also highlight the significant positive impacts these experiences can have on zoo professionals’ careers and personal growth.

Born at the St. Louis Zoo and transferred to Akron Zoo in 2019, Gondar played a crucial role in the zoo’s Pride of Africa exhibit, even fathering three fawns there. His story is not just a tale of individual survival and adaptability but also brings to the fore broader themes related to the conservation of endangered species through captive breeding programs. The success stories of breeding endangered species in captivity, like that of Gondar’s, echo the potential of zoos to serve as arks for genetic diversity, ensuring the survival of species under threat in their natural habitats.

Gondar’s situation also sheds light on captive animals’ health challenges, including the development of masses or other health conditions that might go unnoticed in the wild. The discovery of a mass in his lung, leading to his humane euthanization, raises critical questions about the quality of life and ethical management of animals under human care. Necropsy findings, in this case, are invaluable for veterinary science, offering insights that can inform future care and treatment of similar species in zoos worldwide.

Moreover, Gondar’s life story symbolizes the broader implications for wildlife conservation efforts and zoo management practices. It encapsulates the challenges and responsibilities zoo habitats embody in creating environments that cater not just to the physical needs of the animals but also to their intricate social and psychological requirements. Zoos are increasingly recognized as venues for public entertainment and vital centers for conservation, education, and research.

Through the lens of Gondar’s life and the dedicated care he received, we gain profound insights into the complex roles zoos play in preserving biodiversity, educating the public on conservation issues, and fostering an appreciation for the natural world. His story exemplifies the everyday challenges, decisions, and delicate balances that zoo staff navigates to provide the best possible care for the animals entrusted to them, underscoring the importance of continuous learning, adaptation, and advancement in zoo management and wildlife conservation practices.

In essence, the life of Gondar the Speke’s gazelle, from the leaps and bounds within his habitat to the quiet end of his journey, not only captivates the hearts of those who cared for him but also serves as a compelling chapter in the ongoing narrative of human efforts to conserve and understand the spectacular diversity of life on our planet.



Source Description
We are mourning the loss of our male Speke’s gazelle. Gondar’s health began to decline in the last week, and a subsequent vet procedure discovered a mass on his lung. The difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize Gondar. Necropsy results confirmed the substantial mass, and testing will be conducted to determine if it’s cancerous.

Gondar has defied the odds over the last several years, thanks to the amazing care from the animal and vet care teams. In 2021, he severely fractured his front leg, a serious injury for gazelles who have a lot of weight and pressure placed on a small area of their feet. Our vet team and a surgeon, Dr. Mark Daye, from Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital, conducted surgery to place an external ring fixator on the leg to give him the best chance of survival.

After months of treatment, Gondar made a full recovery. Despite the permanent limp and bowed ankle, he could live a full life, running and jumping throughout the habitat.

“Gondar has significantly impacted my career in animal care,” said Lauren McKenna, animal care manager for the hoofstock/primate team at the Akron Zoo. “Through the amazing care and dedication of my team and our vet staff, we were able to help him pull through a life-threatening injury and give him three additional years of life. Gondar taught us to enjoy the little things and not take life for granted.”

Gondar was born on July 14, 2017, at the St. Louis Zoo. He came to live here at the Akron Zoo in 2019 for the opening of Pride of Africa. Gondar fathered three gazelle fawns while at the Akron Zoo.

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