Gazelle Escapes Zoo's Habitat and Injures Jaw

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Gazelle Escapes Zoo's Habitat and Injures Jaw

Posted: 10/03/2016
Gazelle at Zoo KNoxvilleA Thomson’s gazelle escaped from Zoo Knoxville’s Grasslands Africa habitat late Sunday night and sustained a jaw injury.  

Fodder, an 11-year-old male Thomson’s gazelle who was born at Zoo Knoxville, escaped from the Grasslands Africa enclosure last night.  He was observed on a service road behind the habitat by the on-duty ranger, who alerted the appropriate animal staff to implement the zoo’s escaped animal protocol.  Staff responded immediately, confirmed he was not in the habitat and begun the search to locate him.  The search was suspended around 1:00 a.m. Monday morning until daybreak could allow a large, systematic search to be conducted.  
The gazelle was found in a wooded area of the zoo within an hour after the search resumed.  Veterinarians were able to approach and tranquilize the animal.  After being sedated, the gazelle was taken to the zoo’s clinic for x-rays, where radiographs revealed he had a fractured jaw.  Dr. Andrew Cushing from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine performed surgery to wire the lower jaw in place so it would heal properly.  

Fodder is currently recovering in his stall in the barn and will be closely monitored during his recuperation.  He is receiving pain medication and antibiotics and will be on a diet of soft food over the next few days.  It is not known if the injury occurred during the process of his escape or after he was outside the Grasslands Africa habitat.
Zoo staff conducted a thorough inspection of the Grasslands Africa containment fence and found it to be secure, with no obvious signs of egress from the habitat.  It is believed the animal was suddenly startled and jumped, managing to get through a gap in the high tensile wire that composes the upper portion of the containment fence.  It was determined the escape was not a result of any error in protocol.  
Thomson’s gazelle are a small species of antelope that stand approximately 22-26 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh in the range of 35-55 pounds.  They are native to the savannas and grassland habitats of Africa, particularly the Serengeti region of Kenya and Tanzania.  

Photo of gazelle by Tennessee Trails Photography.

Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Knoxville’s largest attraction, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Currently, the zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily.  Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. For more information visit