Beloved ostrich at Topeka Zoo dies after swallowing staff member's keys

This image provided by the Topeka Zoo shows Karen, an ostrich at the Topeka Zoo in Topeka, Kan. The 5-year-old ostrich was euthanized on Thursday, April 18, 2024, after grabbing and swallowing a zoo staff member's keys. (Credit: Topeka Zoo & Cons

The Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center in Kansas announced a beloved ostrich died after swallowing a staff member's keys.

The announcement was made in a social media post on Friday that the 5-year-old ostrich named Karen had reached beyond her exhibit's fence and grabbed and swallowed the employee's keys. Staff consulted with experts around the U.S. "to undergo surgical and non-surgical efforts to minimize the impact of the keys. Unfortunately, these efforts were unsuccessful," the zoo said

Karen was euthanized Thursday and "passed away in staff’s hands," Topeka Zoo Interim Director Fawn Moser said in an email.

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"We are devastated by the loss of Karen," Moser said in a statement. "She was not just an animal; she was a beloved member of our community. Our thoughts are with our dedicated animal care team, who formed deep bonds with Karen during her time with us."

The adored ostrich had been at the zoo since March 2023. She was known for her love of playing in water "and, best of all, being our 'dancing queen!'" the zoo said.

The zoo said it undertook an investigation and "is taking appropriate actions regarding the team member involved." The zoo also said it would review and enhance safety protocols for its animals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.