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Published: Saturday, 7/8/2006

Ostrich euthanized because of pain from leg injury

The Toledo Zoo euthanized a 3-year-old ostrich Thursday after a torn tendon in the bird's left leg made it difficult for her to support her weight, officials said.

Zoo spokesman Andi Norman said yesterday she didn't know how the injury occurred, but said zookeepers noticed the ostrich, named Ruby, began walking with a limp in January.

An arthroscopic procedure in May revealed a partial tear in a major tendon in her leg, and the zoo's chief veterinarian, Dr. Wynona Shellabarger, said the bird probably was injured during a fall or slip.

After tendon fragments and debris were cleaned out and fluid in her joint was drained, the bird's condition began to improve.

But the ostrich's condition began to worsen as it became difficult for the approximately 300-pound bird to put weight on her leg, Dr. Shellabarger said. Because of the location and size of the injured tendon, surgery to repair the tendon was not an option.

"She was losing strength over time because she didn't want to put weight on it because it hurt," Dr. Shellabarger said.

The ostrich arrived at the zoo in June, 2003, and was part of the Africa exhibit. Ostriches in zoos usually have a life expectancy of about 20 to 30 years. Zoo officials expect the arrival of another ostrich later this summer.

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