With animals living longer and advances in medicine, Fresno zoo handles special needs

It’s survival of the less-than-fittest at Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

Sheep and goats are on Celebrex. One sea lion is blind and another is half-paralyzed. A hedgehog-like critter is so old it must eat mushy food.

At nearly 20, “it’s like a 170-year-old person,” said zoo veterinarian Lewis Wright.

Advances in medicine mean animals are living longer in Fresno – and in zoos nationwide – even if they have maladies that could make them dinner in the wild.

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon, where zoos have gotten so good at what they do that we are surpassing median life expectancy,” said Andy Snider, the zoo’s director of animal care and conservation.

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