WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Palm Beach Zoo said a 4-year-old Queensland koala named Abby was found dead in her habitat on Saturday night.
On Saturday at 11 p.m., zoo staff saw Abby was on the ground and unresponsive. They notified the zoo's veterinarian, general curator and associate curator of mammals, who immediately went to the habitat, but they were unable to revive her.
Zookeepers said she was healthy but had tested positive for a virus called Koala Retrovirus B that has been recently found in both wild and captive koala populations.
According to the zoo, research shows the virus weakens the immune systems of koalas that are infected, similar to HIV in humans.
"From the preliminary necropsy (animal autopsy), it was determined that she had enlarged lymph nodes and digestive tract bleeding, even though she had been eating normally," said Jan Steele, General Curator of the Palm Beach Zoo. "Whatever it was that caused her death came up very suddenly, giving us little time to diagnose or treat her symptoms."
Abby came to the Palm Beach Zoo from the Los Angeles Zoo in 2010. She lived in the "Koala Forest" habitat with Oz, a male Queensland koala.
A sign commemorating Abby with her photo and history will be placed at the Koala Forest exhibit.