Sacramento Zoo Reports the Loss of Grevy's Zebra
22-year-old Dixie Passed Away

WHAT’S HAPPENING: The Sacramento Zoo is sad to report the death of Dixie (22-year-old Grevy’s Zebra) due to colic.

WHERE: Sacramento Zoo, at the corner of Land Park Dr. and Sutterville Rd. in William Land Park.

WHEN: Dixie passed away at 9:30 pm on Friday, June 21, 2013. 

Dixie, Grevy's Zebra
22-year-old Dixie, the Grevy's Zebra

Dixie, a 22-year-old Grevy’s Zebra died at 9:30 pm on Friday, June 21, 2013 while being prepared for surgery. Dixie shared her exhibit with three other female Grevy’s Zebras and one female Ostrich. Currently the oldest living Grevy’s Zebra in captivity is 28 and in the wild they can live up to 20 years.

“Dixie stood out from the herd as she was such an easy-going zebra who preferred to do her own thing,” said Animal Keeper Melissa McCartney. “She was typically the first to notice and approach keepers, usually hoping for a snack!”

Friday morning zookeepers noticed that Dixie was not herself. At noontime she was given some medication that seemed to improve her condition for a short time. When her condition began to deteriorate again, veterinarians anesthetized her for a physical exam. Dixie was examined by the Zoo’s veterinary staff and consultants from UC Davis Center for Equine Health. The physical exam revealed that Dixie had a severe form of colic due to a twisted or obstructed large intestine which required surgery to correct. Sadly, Dixie died while she was being prepared for surgery.

”Dixie will be missed by the Sacramento Zoo staff,” said Dr. Ray Wack, Sacramento Zoo veterinarian. “While treatment is sometimes a bit different in zebras, regrettably, colic is seen in both zebras and domestic horses. We are fortunate to have a strong collaboration with UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and appreciate their quick response when we called for a consultation.”

This species of zebra lives in a dry, nutrient-poor habitat in Africa. Their social organization is very different from that of other zebras. Intense competition among females for limited resources prevents long-lasting bonds from being formed. Life on the African plains is also full of danger and predators are a constant threat to the zebras’ survival. Because Grevy’s Zebras are more solitary, they do not have the safety of a large herd to protect them and instead rely on excellent hearing, with large ears that can rotate in any direction. With speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, and with enough advanced warning, it is possible for a zebra to outrun many of its predators.

The wild population of Grevy’s Zebras has been drastically reduced in the past few decades. Although protected by law, their beautiful pelts continue to demand a good price on the black market. Loss of habitat and competition from cattle are also threats to their survival. The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan®. The main focus of this plan is captive breeding and educational awareness to prevent the extinction of this species. Grevy’s Zebras are a fairly hardy species that breeds well in captivity, a trait that will greatly aid in its survival.

Sacramento Zoo – Wildly Inspiring!

Open since 1927, the Sacramento Zoo is home to more than 500 native, rare and endangered animals and is one of over 200 accredited institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Located near the corner of Land Park Drive and Sutterville Road in William Land Park, the Zoo is wholly managed by the non-profit Sacramento Zoological Society.  This Sacramento treasure inspires conservation awareness through education and recreation.  Open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, general admission is $11.25; children ages 2-11 are $7.25 and one and under are admitted free.  Parking is free throughout the park or ride Regional Transit bus #6. For information, call 916-808-5888 or visit

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