Visiting the zoo’s geriatric ward

They are a group of senior citizens unlike any you’re likely to find at a typical retirement home. But that’s because their retirement community is at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.

First, there’s May, a fennec fox who is losing her hair at the ripe old age of 11. Virginia, an 18-year-old grey seal, is going blind from glaucoma. And Marta, the black leopard, is battling severe arthritis at her advanced age of 18 years.

“Animals are very similar to humans,” said Robin Barbiers, vice president of the zoo. “As they age, the animals face the same conditions that humans do.”

Animals often live much longer in captivity than they do in the wild, which means zoos increasingly deal with geriatric animals who need the kind of care that is often associated with geriatric humans.

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