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Sloppy procedures in orangutan's death

by: OREGON ZOO - 20-year-old orangutan Kutai died after surgeryAn investigation by the Portland area regional board Metro found lapses in staff protocol were not reported effectively, leading to the death of an orangutan at the Oregon Zoo.

A summary of Metro’s investigative report into the death of 20-year-old orangutan Kutai was released Tuesday after two media outlets, Willamette Week and the Oregonian, filed public records requests.

The investigation could not definitively say whether lapses in protocol and procedure directly led to Kutai’s death. Still, violations — such as texting during a medical procedure, medical supply shortages and poorly working medical equipment — were not reported to management, according to the report. There was also little follow up with staff when they did break procedures.

In the midst of a month-long illness, Kutai died the morning after he underwent surgery.

“Where we can improve is communication and reporting protocols among management and our living collection staff,” said Teri Dresler, Oregon Zoo interim director.

“We have a team of professionals who focus every day on taking care of more than 200 species and more than 1,700 individual animals.”

The investigation also found anesthesia equipment was not effectively monitored.

“We need zoo staff to feel empowered to share their needs and concerns openly, honestly and frequently and we need to hold managers accountable for responding appropriately to those needs and concerns,” Dresler said.

Dresler said the zoo will work with Metro staff to determine areas for improvement. She said they are willing to commit more resources and make changes where necessary.

Batik, a 22-year-old female orangutan, died in August 2010, according to the Portland Tribune.