COLORADO SPRINGS — It is a somber day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo today as they lost two of their endangered species on Thursday afternoon.
The zoo said goodbye to a Mountain Tapir and a Mexican Wolf, both endangered species that the zoo was working with to continue conservation efforts of these species.
Cofan, a 19-year-old mountain tapir, and Luna, a 14-year-old Mexican Wolf Matriach passed away in unrelated situations zoo officials said Friday.
Both animals were elderly, and were experiencing age-related conditions. Cofan was euthanized after veterinary measures failed. Luna was found in her den, and officials believe she had a peaceful passing in her sleep.
According to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, only four mountain tapir remain in human care, all at the Los Angeles Zoo. Luna has offspring to keep the species growing at the zoo, but Cofan does not. Cofan came to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2014.
“Cofan was a sweetheart,” said Joanna Husby, animal care manager at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “Every year on World Tapir Day, we’d invite the public to come right up to his fence and scratch his chin. People would travel from all over to meet him, and he always chose to stay right where we could give him scratches. He seemed to love his role as an ambassador, and I believe he inspired our members to support wild tapir conservation. Without Cofan and Carlotta, they would never have taken interest in those causes.”
Guests to the zoo had the opportunity to get close to and pet Cofan.
Luna came to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Oct. 2016, while her mate, Navarro, arrived in Nov. 2017. The two welcomed their first litter in May 2018, which was the zoo's first litter of Mexican wolves in 20 years.
Luna and Navarro welcomed six total offspring, five of them female. Two of the pups have gone on to form their own packs within the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is a multi-organizational effort that contributes to diversify endangered wild populations. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that there are only about 196 Mexican wolves left in the U.S.
Luna and Cofan both shared important roles to their endangered species.
“We believe it is our job to be a place where people can care about and see some of the world's most endangered species,” said Bob Chastain, president and CEO at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. “Further, because people come to the Zoo and support us through the conservation donation included with their admission, we get to make a difference for mountain tapir and gray wolves and many other species in the wild. And that’s my personal ‘why’ for why I continue to be dedicated to the work of CMZoo.”
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