Hogle Zoo reports death of exotic animal

Wasatch Front News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Hogle Zoo is mourning the loss of an exotic animal, Friday.

On May 14, Utah’s Hogle Zoo experienced an unfortunate turn of events when a Turkmenian markhor, an exotic Asian goat-like species, passed away from injuries incurred during a sparring match with a fellow male markhor.

According to zoo officials, the sparring match happened late Friday morning. The Zoo’s veterinary team was immediately called while other animal care team members performed CPR on the seven-year-old markhor, named Dusti.

Sources tell ABC4 though it is unclear exactly what happened during the sparring match, the necropsy animal autopsy showed signs of immediate death, likely from a head butt or broken neck.

“It was a sad shock for us to rush over there and find him gone,” shares markhor keeper, Rachel Blake. “Dusti is definitely going to be missed. There will be a big hole in the herd.”

According to officials, being a herd animal, markhor are most comfortable living in groups. Sparring is a natural behavior in markhor both in zoos and in the wild. They use their large spiral horns to establish hierarchy, play, or assert dominance.

Hogle Zoo tells ABC4 that their markhor typically engages in sparring behavior multiple times a day and zoo guests enjoy watching these impressive demonstrations of strength and agility.

“It’s a natural behavior,” adds Blake. “It’s how they interact. They’re always challenging one another.”

Officials say Dusti lived with two other males who came to the zoo in 2015.

“We’re checking on the other two and they seem to be handling it okay so far. They’re taking treats and eating,” Blake tells ABC4.“But they’re going to have to figure out the dynamics in the herd. Anytime an animal leaves the herd they have to figure out new dynamics.”

The Hogle Zoo describes Turkmenian markhor as large goat-like species native to central Asia and the Himalayas. They have large spiral horns and broad hooves, specially adapted to live in mountainous terrain – between 2,000 and 12,000 feet. The zoo’s exhibit is designed with multiple climbing areas and rocky hillsides, mimicking their native terrain.

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