Woodland caribou, Vanilla, deceased


A Loss in Wild Canada

May 14, 2024 | 2 minute read

On May 14, we unexpectedly said goodbye to our female woodland caribou, ‘Vanilla’.

At nearly 10 years old, Vanilla was considered in her early geriatric years for her species. Our Animal Care, Health & Welfare (ACHW) team had noted a change in Vanilla’s behaviour, with intermittent signs of discomfort. Based on these observations, her dedicated team decided a comprehensive veterinary examination under anesthesia was necessary to evaluate her health and provide treatment and supportive care. Although the anesthesia and examination went smoothly, Vanilla tragically passed away during recovery. Her exam and necropsy found conditions associated with aging.

Vanilla was born here at the zoo in 2014. Throughout her life with us, she contributed to the conservation of her Vulnerable species by giving birth to three female offspring: ‘Mica’ (born in June 2020), ‘Primrose’ (born in June 2021), and ‘Avens’ (born in May 2022) – all of whom we are fortunate to continue to care for.

Vanilla will be dearly missed but her legacy will live on through her offspring and all those who had the opportunity to care for or visit her over the last decade. Saying goodbye to the animals we love and care for is never easy, and it is especially heartbreaking when the loss is unexpected. Our hearts go out to her dedicated care team during this difficult time.