Sunday, June 22, 2008

Geriatric animals

Fascinating article on the aging wildlife population in zoos:
The Golden Years have arrived at the nation's zoos and aquariums, and that is taking veterinarians and keepers, along with their animals, into a zone of unknowns.

Do female gorillas, now frequently living in to their 40s and 50s, experience menopause?

Can an aging lemur suffer from dementia?

How do you weigh the most difficult choice — between prolonging pain and ending life — when the patient is a venerable jaguar who's been around so long she's come to feel like a member of the family?

All of those questions hang on a larger one that, until recent years, has been left to educated guesswork based on limited evidence.