16 January 2021

Zookeeper Chad heartbroken by sudden death of orphan lion cub

| Kim Treasure
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Moto the lion cub has sadly died, despite the best efforts of Mogo Wildlife Park staff. Photo: Facebook.

Mogo zookeeper Chad Staples has shared his pain at losing one of the two lion cubs he’s been hand-raising since the death of their mother more than a month ago.

Mogo Wildlife Park’s treasured lioness, Zuri, tragically died three days after giving birth to her first cubs.

The seven-year-old lioness gave birth to two healthy cubs on 8 December, but a third cub was born dead and a fourth couldn’t be delivered naturally.

Zoo staff carried out an emergency caesarian to try and save the cub, however it had already died and caused severe internal rupturing to Zuri due to its size and positioning.

It was a terrible blow for zookeeper Chad, who stepped up to play mum for the remaining cubs, feeding them every two hours, day and night.

Earlier this week Chad spoke of the hard work involved in the task, and of the joy of watching the cubs’ personalities develop.

READ ALSO Exclusive: Mogo Wildlife Park names adorable orphan cubs

“Like anyone who’s looked after a baby or cared for anything young, you feel like you’re living on fumes, but it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do,” he said.

Chad named one Moto, meaning fire and the other Maji, meaning water.

“I wanted names that worked as a pair and paid tribute to the cubs’ heritage,” Chad said.

Sadly, little Moto died after a sudden seizure, rocking the zookeeper’s world.

“Death, unfortunately, can be treated as a bit of a taboo in zoos,” he said in a Facebook tribute.

“It can often be a difficult story to explain, especially the amount of times we really never get to the bottom of ‘why’. But we can’t have the amazing joy of birth and babies without also having end of life.

“The last couple of days have dealt me two horrible blows. Moto … passed away very suddenly just before her lunch time feed two days ago after a spontaneous seizure.

READ ALSO Lioness and two cubs die at Mogo Wildlife Park

“And now … Ngukurr our stunning old boy crocodile succumbed to a stomach tumour and passed away this morning.

“These moments are beyond hard.

“Moto passing at the very start of her life, with her autopsy so far telling us no more than she was a completely healthy cub.

“Ngukurr’s death is hard in another way. I’m thankful he had such a long life and I’ve had the privilege for caring for him for almost 25 years.

“As much as I’d like to hide away from these moments, I believe they need to be shared so that grieving can be done communally. This way we can celebrate the time we spent with these amazing creatures, whether it was for a long time or tragically too short.

“Death is hard, but easier if we walk through it together.”

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My heart hurts with you and for you, for Moti & all others at the zoo family. You tried your best & must carry on with steadfast determination

Dear Chad, I am so sorry for your loss. I have walked in your shoes and know your sorrow. It will always be in your memory. You will not forget, but in time, you will rise above it. We must be thankful for the love we shared if only for a brief time. That love does not l die it is only transformed. Be well and look forward.

Lesley Adamson10:26 pm 17 Jan 21

A very sad situation following previous sadness.

They were very lucky to have such a caring human to love them in there last says thank you for your love and compassion😭😭😭🥰

So sad! I feel bad for you zoo keepers having to go throuh this!

None of these creatures have lived natural lives. I find myself thinking it’s a blessing for that cub that he died. Life imprisonment, with all natural instincts useless, with unnatural interference from humans? Death is not always the worst option. It’s painful, but can be a blessing, too.

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