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Farewell, Tavek: Racine Zoo's last tur dies

Tavek, West Caucasian tur from Racine Zoo

Tavek, a West Caucasian tur, died at age 16.

RACINE — An animal that was a favorite of guests at the Racine Zoo passed away June 29.

Tavek, a West Caucasian tur, died at age 16.

He lived longer than expected. The life expectancy for this type of goat is usually about 12 years.

Tavek lived at the top of tur mountain at the zoo, where people watched him climb the mountain and scratch his back on one of his many toys.

“Tavek was our majestic king of the mountain. He was always one of the first animals I saw when starting my day, on top of the mountain, watching over the Zoo,” said Angie Sagert, the Zoo’s animal care supervisor and Tavek’s primary caretaker. “He was a great dad and sired two offspring during his time here.”

His role as an ambassador to West Caucasian tur was critical in bringing attention to the little-known species.

With only about 2,000 West Caucasian tur remaining in the wild and their population decreasing rapidly, they are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

For years, Tavek showed signs of arthritis.

While it was managed by the zoo’s expert animal care team, Tavek’s condition worsened in June. After witnessing the tur’s loss of appetite, the decision was made to euthanize him to ensure Tavek would be comfortable at the end of his days.

He was born at the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park May 18, 2005. Just over a year old, Tavek moved to Racine Zoo in October 2006.

Tavek was preceded in death by his lifelong mate, May, who passed away in December 2020.

The two were inseparable, often sitting together atop the tur mountain, watching over guests at the Zoo.

In the evenings, often after the zoo closed, the two could be seen frolicking and playing together across their mountain.

“Tavek is an animal that I had worked with and known from the start of my time as a keeper here in 2008, and he left a hole that will be hard to fill,” Sagert said. “He will truly be missed, but I find some peace knowing he will be back with May now.”

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