Tennessee

Antelope at Tennessee Zoo dies from choking on squeezable pouch

A 7-year-old sitatunga antelope named Leif died, according to the zoo

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A "beloved" sitatunga antelope died after choking on a squeezable fruit pouch left at Brights Zoo in Tennessee, the zoo announced on June 8.

The family-owned zoo, located about 85 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee, said in a post on social media a 7-year-old sitatunga antelope named Leif died.

"He still had a lot of life to live," the zoo captioned a photo of the animal.

A sitatunga antelope, native to central, eastern and parts of southern Africa, can live for around 22 years under human care, according to Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Brights Zoo addressed the person responsible for bringing the pouch into the zoo in a comment: "We too hope they see this post, but don’t believe they will take responsibility for their actions."

The zoo posted photos of two organic strawberry fruit pouches in a Facebook post explaining why the zoo doesn't allow squeezable pouches.

"The reason is simple — the packaging is dangerous to our animals," the zoo said. "Today we lost a beloved animal due to choking. If you look at these lids from an animal perspective it looks like food."

David Bright, director of Brights Zoo, said in an email to TODAY.com that the pouch from the incident was not recovered, but that the lids were the same as the ones in the photo shared on Facebook.

In the post, the zoo said it had started implementing bag searches, but that "some people find ways to sneak (pouches) in."

Guests are able to go to their car and the picnic area in the parking lot and re-enter the zoo, the zoo added.

One commenter said she had seen adults throwing trash and human food into the enclosures at the zoo. The zoo responded and said anyone who sees someone doing so should report their behavior.

"If we know when it happens we can get staff there immediately to remove the objects, and with a description of the guests we can help them quickly find the exit of the zoo," they said.

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