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March 08, 2023

Philadelphia Zoo mourns death of 24-year-old zebra

Laura and her half-sister Susie came to Philly from Little Rock, Arkansas in 2000

Wildlife Zoos
Laura Zebra Philadelphia Zoo Philadelphia Zoo/Facebook

Laura, a zebra at the Philadelphia Zoo, died this week at 24 years old. She had been at the zoo since 2000.

A Burchell's zebra who lived at the Philadelphia Zoo for more than two decades died this week at 24 years old, the zoo announced Tuesday.

"We are saddened to share that we have said goodbye to our Burchell’s zebra, Laura," the zoo wrote on Facebook and Instagram. "At 24 years old, she was among the oldest of her subspecies in North American zoos."

The zoo said Laura had been anesthetized in February to care for her aging teeth, but she had underlying heart disease, severe arthritis and a muscle injury to her hind limb.

Burchell's zebras, named after British explorer and naturalist William John Burchell, are a subspecies of plains zebra that inhabit the grasslands of east and south Africa. They're distinguished from other zebras by the distinct shadow striping on their haunches. They are known to migrate the longest distances of any terrestrial animal in Africa, traveling 300 miles round trip annually between Botswana and Namibia.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers plains zebras near threatened.

In the wild, Burchell's zebras typically live between 9-20 years. In captivity, they can live between 20-30 years.

"(Laura's) age is a testament to the phenomenal care she received from keepers and veterinary staff throughout her long life," the zoo said.

We are saddened to share that we have said goodbye to our Burchell’s zebra, Laura. At 24 years old, she was among the...

Posted by Philadelphia Zoo on Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Laura and her half-sister, Susie, were born at Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas and came to the Philadelphia Zoo in 2000 when they were each a year old. The zoo described Laura as a "quiet, old soul."

"Laura was content to lead her herd from within, letting the other zebras shine and be their wonderful, dramatic selves. She will be greatly missed by all of us," the zoo said.

In addition to 24-year-old Susie, the Philadelphia Zoo is also home to five-year-old Grant’s zebras Laverne and Shirley, who share a habitat with Tony, the Southern white rhino.