Remembering Lena

Courtesy: Michael Cameron

Gentle, sweet Lena has passed away. The resident lynx had been in Wildlife Images care since 2016.  Lena had long battled kidney failure and severe arthritis. She had been on palliative care for several weeks and when Animal Care arrived for her daily treatment it was clear that her quality of life had deteriorated to a point where euthanasia was required. She was humanely released from pain on the night of Tuesday, October 15.

Weighing the quality of life for the animals in our care is taken very seriously. We never want an animal, whether patient or resident, to suffer.

Loving on Lena

We learned in late summer that Lena had entered end stage kidney failure. To keep her comfortable during this time our Animal Care Team worked with Dr. Russ Codd of Lincoln Road Veterinarian Clinic to develop a treatment plan.

Keepers give Lena affection during treatment

For a several weeks, Lena received subcutaneous fluids. Because of her past life as a house pet, Lena enjoyed human attention and tactile contact. This made administering her fluids much easier. Each afternoon, after the park closed, three members of the animal care staff headed to Lena’s private enclosure. One person would distract her with food and petting, a second would hold the needle in place and the third monitored the bag of fluids. To further help her during this time her diet was adjusted so she got smaller morsels. An anti-nausea medicine and vitamin B were also added to the arthritis medication she received for the last couple of years.

The Animal Care Team closely watched her behaviors and noticed an improvement during much of her treatment. Her appetite returned. We know Lena found comfort during this time since she showed affection to her handlers by purring and leaning into their scratches. While her arthritis made moving slow she still used the vast majority of her enclosure and made regular visits to the larger cat run.

Lena, and fellow Eurasian lynx, Taz, became permanent residents in 2016. Lena was a former house pet. Her previous owner had her declawed at an early age which resulted in ongoing problems including her arthritis. While Lena was no longer considered a pet, she was loved like one.