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Moose at zoo loses battle with cancer

Posted at 1:47 PM, Jul 11, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — Meeko, Potter Park Zoo's Alaskan Moose, has died.

The zoo is reporting that he lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday night.

“Meeko’s conditioned worsened and although all possible treatments were attempted Meeko did not respond the treatments and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize him ,” said Dr. Ronan Eustace, Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health.

Meeko was found to have a mass on the back of his leg during an examination to trim his hooves this past spring.

After the mass was surgically removed and submitted for evaluation, it was found to be a type of cancer called soft tissue sarcoma.

Due to the location of the mass, the cancer could not be completely removed during surgery so additional treatment to get rid of any residual cancer was needed.

Dr. Ronan Eustace, Potter Park Zoo's Director of Animal Health, contacted veterinary specialists from Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine about electrochemotherapy.

“Initially the electrochemotherapy machine at MSU-CVM was undergoing repair; so, Dr. Rashmir worked with staff at RXVET BIOTECH to personally drive a loaner machine to Potter Park Zoo. The Zoo is really indebted to Dr. Rashmir and RXVET BIOTECH for going above and beyond to help Meeko,” says Dr. Eustace.

The electrochemotherapy treatment involves the use of small doses of intralesional chemotherapy followed by electric pulses applied to the tumor.

Electrochemotherapy work by directly injecting chemotherapy drugs into the tumor. Then, the electrotherapy unit gives electric pulses, which causes the pores of the cancer cells to open and allows for higher doses of chemotherapy to be absorbed into the cancer cells resulting in a more efficient response to therapy.

The zoo says that the staff is deeply saddened by the death of Meeko.

“I am proud of our team and their heroic efforts to provide a different outcome for Meeko,” said Potter Park Zoo Director Cynthia Wagner. “The zoo team is devastated by this loss and we thank everyone for their support.”

Meeko first came to Potter Park Zoo in 2014 after being orphaned in Alaska. There are only six AZA accredited zoos in the United States that house moose. Potter Park Zoo plans to continue to exhibit moose in the future to educate visitors about these magnificent and unique animals. As an AZA accredited zoo, Potter Park Zoo is dedicated to providing the highest level of care for all animals.

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