Image: © Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Geriatric Gray Wolf Passes During Treatment at Woodland Park Zoo


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


May 27, 2023 5:15 pm


Seattle, Washington, The United States

Woodland Park Zoo have announced the sad passing of their gray wolf, Kaya while under a general anesthetic for a diagnostic procedure at the zoo's veterinary hospital. At 13 years old Kaya was considered a geriatric wolf with the species having a median lifespan of 11-12 years in managed care.

Gray wolves have been a feature of Woodland Park Zoo for 7 decades. Kaya took up residence at the zoo in 2010 alongside three of her sisters. Two of these wolves had previously passed away with one, Shila remaining at the zoo.

Guests will find Shila in the Living Northwest Trail alongside Canada lynx, brown bears, snowy owls, elk, river otters, western pond turtles and more wildlife native to the Pacific Northwest.

“For more than seven decades, gray wolves have always remained a favorite for visitors. It’s a great loss for our zoo family. We’re going to miss Kaya deeply,” said Erin Sullivan, an animal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

Dr. Tim Storms, director of animal health at Woodland Park Zoo reports that in recent weeks Kaya had become lame on her left rear limb causing vets to intervene and investigate the cause. "We anesthetized her for diagnostic assessment and discovered a very large, invasive mass consistent with an aggressive tumor that was causing severe swelling and pain. Radiographs confirmed the severity of the tumor and also identified a pulmonary lesion consistent with a probable metastatic tumor. “After considering surgical and treatment options we were discussing euthanasia due to a grave prognosis, when cardiac arrest occurred and she passed away,” explained Storms.

As part of the standard procedure when any species pass away at Woodland Park Zoo a post mortem exam will be conducted.  

Gray wolves are widespread across Europe, Asia and North America but in the United States they were once on the edge of extinction. In recent years efforts by government organizations, nonprofits, Indigenous Peoples and private landowners have helped to bring the species back from the brink and begin the process of restoring their populations.

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grey wolf

More on the Gray Wolf!

Also known as the timber wolf find out some more fantastic facts on the gray wolf with our fact file.

Our Favourite Gray Wolf Fact!

Gray wolves live in groups known as packs. By working together with a number of other individuals they are able to take down larger prey item up to the size of an elk or moose.

Image: © Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

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