Seeking to defuse accusations that Lincoln Park Zoo has been hiding the facts behind a spate of recent animal deaths, zoo officials opened pathology reports on the nine deaths to reporters Wednesday.
The contents, though highly technical, seemed to validate the zoo's contention that its public summaries of the reports released earlier were accurate and did not withhold any damning details.
Of the recent deaths, officials seem most puzzled and spooked by the loss of three small langur monkeys that died over 36 hours in an outdoor exhibit this month. Early test results offered no clue to the cause, but zoo officials said they hope more detailed testing will bring an answer, whether it comes down to a management mistake or even deliberate poisoning.
The zoo showed the reports on three elephants, two gorillas, a camel and the three monkeys to reporters from the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times - an unprecedented move, according to embattled zoo director Kevin Bell. Bell had to seek cooperation from the San Diego Zoo to show the documents on the elephants, which were on loan from that zoo when they died.
"In the veterinary medical community, showing reports like these to the public simply is not done," Bell said.
The zoo let reporters look at the records and take notes while discussing them with a zoo veterinarian, but declined to allow copies to be made.