‘Retirement homes’ set up to care for older animals at Brevard Zoo

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Much like humans, when zoo animals reach their twilight years, they often need specialized diets, tailored medications and accessibility adjustments to their homes.

When Brevard Zoo animals reach their “geriatric” years, or about 80% of their expected lifespan, animal care teams said they work to create “retirement homes” geared toward the aging animals’ needs.

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“Taking care of animals is a lifelong commitment, no matter the species,” zoo officials said in a recent blog post. “Here at the Zoo, we strive to provide the best possible care for the entirety of all our animals’ lives, including those who have surpassed their median life expectancies.”

Here’s what a few of those homes look like:

Photos: See inside ‘retirement homes’ set up for older animals at Brevard Zoo

Flounder’s condo

At 29 years old, Flounder the small flying fox has far exceeded her species’ median life expectancy.

Due to her advanced age and nocturnal nature, zoo officials said Flounder lives in a behind-the-scenes area of the zoo. Her habitat is equipped with climbing structures to encourage her to be active, stuffed animals to keep her cozy, hideouts to give her options and a night house for daytime naps.

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Josie’s lazy river

Josie, a 28-year-old Baird’s tapir, has lived at the Brevard Zoo since 1994. Zoo officials said she lives in the deer yard and has access to the open water located just across from the bald eagle habitat.

While her species isn’t found in Florida nowadays, officials said this spot is perfect for an older Baird’s tapir. She has access to many different areas, lots of water for swimming and opportunities to socialize with the area’s other residents if she so desires.

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Island life for Kamots and Matilda

Two ring-tailed lemurs, 28-year-old male Kamots and 15-year-old female Matilda, are living out their elder years on island time.

The pair live on a small island off the zoo’s Africa platform extension. Zoo officials said the island has been adapted to suit their needs with lower-hanging vines and lowered night houses that they can easily access.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.