Big Word of the Month: Euthanasia

November 2, 2009 | Larry Boles

The big word of the month is a hard one to talk about. Euthanasia comes from Greek and means “good death”. I doubt any two people can agree on what exactly a good death is, yet it is a discussion we have to have in the Animal Department from time to time. When an animal is ill and our veterinarians have run out of treatment strategies we have to consider quality of life issues. Deciding when an animal is suffering too much is not a precise, scientific process. Ultimately, we all have to rely on our experiences and feelings.

One of the earliest posts we made on this blog was about our beloved steer Moo. At the time we discussed how to deal with difficult issues on the blog and whether it might be better to not include them. We all agreed that if we were to give our readers an accurate picture of our department we needed to not gloss over the hard things. Most recently, we lost our grumpy friend Squealer (we all called him “Pig”) and once again had to report some bad news.

When we shared our difficult decision to euthanize a red wolf people asked about how they could best memorialize him. Sherry wrote a followup post with some ideas. The only thing I would add to her post is that we animal keepers would be happy to hear from you in person. You can say hello if you see us working or ask at the front desk for a member of the animal department.

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