Officials at Metro announced this morning that the director and chief veterinarian at the Oregon Zoo were fired for negligence in the death of a 20-year-old orangutan.
The Sumatran orangutan, Kutai, died in January after a monthlong illness. Metro, the regional planning agency that oversees the zoo, says that it investigated his death and found "lapses in procedures and protocols were tolerated."
The Oregonian first reported the Metro announcement this morning.
Metro quietly announced Monday that zoo director Kim Smith and chief veterinarian Mitch Finnegan were out of zoo management.
Here's Metro's full statement, released at 9 am today.
In operating the Oregon Zoo, Metro’s first commitment is to the animals. Every day our goal is to uphold high standards for accountability and integrity when it comes to animal care. Information came to our attention that raised questions about whether these standards were met in relation to the death of the zoo’s Sumatran orangutan Kutai.
We conducted a careful investigation of the circumstances surrounding Kutai’s death and concluded mistakes were made and important information was not fully disclosed.
Key findings from Metro’s investigation include:
• Standard operating procedures and best practices were not followed.
• Lapses in procedures and protocols were tolerated.
• There was a lack of trust regarding the accuracy of reports and whether important facts regarding animal care were omitted.
Metro will work with veterinary and animal care staff to implement a thorough and thoughtful review of animal care procedures and protocols. While the exact scope and timing are under development, Metro is committed to collaborating with experts in animal care, from both inside and outside of Metro, to ensure we continue to make the most of the Oregon Zoo’s new veterinary medical center and that our animal care reflects best practices.
Because the investigation involves personnel actions Metro will not be releasing more specific details at this time.