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Baker
02-27-2009, 05:57 PM
Sorry about the title, I couldn't think of how else to phrase the question without making it a paragraph.

See, our local zoo has just had a long time resident, a hippo, die. She was forty five, one of the oldest hippos in captivity. How in the heck does one get rid of a big, dead hippo? Or an elephant? Or something similarly large?

I imagine it could be buried, or burned, but wouldn't it be rather hard to lift that sucker? And forgive me, but I keep having visions of horses and chain saws, like the scene in the office of the university president, in Animal House.

Has anyone had experience with this?

3acresandatruck
02-27-2009, 06:23 PM
Around here, if you have enough land, you can dig a big hole and bury it, subject to local laws. Otherwise, you'd look in the Yellow Pages for a local rendering plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendering_(industrial)) and have it hauled away. If you don't have the equipment to move the corpse, one of the neighbors does.

Just a wild guess, but I suppose a zoo could use a front loader or something for a bigger animal: load it on a truck and haul it to the rendering plant.

Bootis
02-27-2009, 06:33 PM
Why not just feed it to the Coyotees/Hyenias/Tigers/Camels?

Chez Guevara
02-27-2009, 06:35 PM
There's a rather sad story here from 2007.

It concerns the untimely demise of Puddles, a 44 year old hippo. Puddles had to be euthanised after problems developed following a move to temporary accommodation. The relocation was necessary to facilitate a refurbishment of the permanent quarters occupied by both Puddles and his mate Cuddles. For the journey between enclosures, Puddles and Cuddles were crated. The crates were then moved by crane.

Link (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/26/BAGLRQ2AU91.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea).

KarlGrenze
02-27-2009, 07:51 PM
See, our local zoo has just had a long time resident, a hippo, die. She was forty five, one of the oldest hippos in captivity. How in the heck does one get rid of a big, dead hippo? Or an elephant? Or something similarly large?

I imagine it could be buried, or burned, but wouldn't it be rather hard to lift that sucker? And forgive me, but I keep having visions of horses and chain saws, like the scene in the office of the university president, in Animal House.

Has anyone had experience with this?

YES! Working with the dead has its advantages! ;)

Animals are sometimes moved using crates, vehicles, trucks, whatever way, and buried somewhere else. That "else" varies by zoo. And it also depends if they're going to do a necropsy or not on the animal.

Also, depends on your definition of big. For example, at the Bronx Zoo, only the biggest animals (giraffe, elephant) were sent to a different field, where a field necropsy is done and then buried on site. It's an off limits area within the zoo, where they don't have any exhibits around.

When I did my pathology externship at the Bronx, I had to go there on a Sunday and necropsy an okapi (giraffe relative, size of a horse). That was about the largest animal that fit on the necropsy floor they had (yes, Bronx Zoo has its own hospital with necropsy hall). And the animals are disposed by incineration/chemical treatment.

At Zoo Atlanta, and others zoos, depends again on the size. Sometimes they send the animals to the place that does the necropsy. My current employer, UGA CVM, had the (un)fortune to do the necropsy on the pregnant elephant that died there last fall (check their website for details). The animal was put in a pick up truck by crates, taken all the way from Atlanta to Athens, and then a team of people worked on the necropsy, using tents to hide the body. The body pieces were incinerated.

They don't give the carcasses to the carnivores for at least two reasons. The first one is you never know WTF killed the animal... and if it is something that the other animals can get??? The second one is... since so little is known about a lot of wildlife, and since you don't know from what the animal died, and maybe it was something that is a herd problem and could affect others unless you intervene... necropsies are usually done on animals that die at the zoo.

Bowhunter
02-27-2009, 07:53 PM
The University of Maryland does the necropsies on a large variety of animals from all over the state, and DC. Dr. Ingling is an interesting man. I've seen an elephant, lion, horses, cows, and a multitude of other animals dropped off at his lab. After he's done the necropsy, any animals that are too big to fit down the chute get cut up into pieces, and on comes the incenerator.

That last time I was in there, he was working on a grey stallion. It was on a motorized chain lift so he could move it around the lab. I asked what happened to it, and he pointed to a tumor hanging out of it's butt. The lift took the horse to where the chute was, and he said, "Hmmm, that's not going to fit". He grabbed a handsaw, and proceeded to cut it's legs off. Then it fit.

It's not a place for a person with a weak stomach.

http://media.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2007/11/16/News/Ashes.To.Ashes-3106123.shtml

Staale Nordlie
02-27-2009, 09:57 PM
Just blow up the animal with explosives. Whatever is left will be eaten by scavenging birds. (http://snopes.com/critters/disposal/whale.asp)

Khampelf
02-27-2009, 10:47 PM
Just blow up the animal with explosives. Whatever is left will be eaten by scavenging birds. (http://snopes.com/critters/disposal/whale.asp)


After reading the message title, I predicted someone would link this within five posts. I wasn't far off.

Whale, someone had to...

Baker
02-28-2009, 12:43 AM
You know, answers like this are why I love the Dope, no matter what. I get straight answers, and I get humor.

Special thanks to KarlGrenze and Bowhunter. I couldn't imagine burying say, a hippo, but I didn't know if there were incinerators big enough. Now I know they may have to be dismembered. Ugh, strong stomach indeed.

Khadaji
02-28-2009, 06:05 AM
I love that whale vid. It was one of the first vids on the internet that genuinely made me laugh out loud.

KarlGrenze
02-28-2009, 06:45 AM
Huh, you need a strong stomach to dismember a dead animal? I thought the strong stomach was for those dismembering it alive. ;)

Wiltshire
02-28-2009, 08:31 AM
Whatever is left will be eaten by scavenging birds.Of course, this can have unforseen consequences, too. (I mean, even without the involvement of explosives.) 8 bald eagles that fed on carcass sick, dead (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/400236_baldeagle16.html)

wevets
02-28-2009, 03:25 PM
I have dealt with the carcasses of large animals (mostly sea lions, up to about 800 lbs.) and we would cut them up after necropsy and send them to a rendering plant in the most disgusting metal drums Iíve ever seen in my life. The drums would get sent back to us with this crust all over the inside you seeÖ Well, thatís probably TMI.

Some parts of these animals would be preserved for scientific or educational study. Two years ago I helped clean a Harbor Porpoise skeleton for display. We cut off huge chunks of its flesh, cleared some off with high-pressure hoses, then let bacteria digest lots of the rest. We repeated these steps many times over the course of a year. Unfortunately, not all the flesh went to the rendering plant. I can still smell the microscopic bits that must still be on the boots I was using.


Larger animals, like elephant seals and whales, either get towed back out to sea or buried on the beach where theyíre found (in more remote locations, nothing gets done with them at all.) We have several beaches in our area with Humpback and Blue Whales buried beneath the sands. At some point, we may go out and dig up the skeleton when enough time has passed for the flesh to have decayed away. Awfully ghoulish, isnít it?

Baker
02-28-2009, 05:41 PM
Awfully ghoulish, isnít it?

Well, actually I think it's quite practical. But another part of the question is, once it's decided to bury say, a whale or an elephant, are hooks or something sunk into the corpse to drag it into the hole, or lift it by winching it up? Or is the corpse cut up and shoved piece by piece into the grave dug for it?

With that whale I'm assuming the institute would want the skeleton at least relatively intact, so cutting might not be an option.

KarlGrenze
02-28-2009, 06:07 PM
Well, actually I think it's quite practical. But another part of the question is, once it's decided to bury say, a whale or an elephant, are hooks or something sunk into the corpse to drag it into the hole, or lift it by winching it up? Or is the corpse cut up and shoved piece by piece into the grave dug for it?

With that whale I'm assuming the institute would want the skeleton at least relatively intact, so cutting might not be an option.

I haven't dealt with whales, but from dealing with other animals, pieces are cut up and disposed of during necropsy. So if they're going to be buried, and they're doing a necropsy, probably what will go into the hole are large body pieces, not the whole carcass.

Pyper
03-01-2009, 12:12 AM
There's a rather sad story here from 2007.

It concerns the untimely demise of Puddles, a 44 year old hippo. Puddles had to be euthanised after problems developed following a move to temporary accommodation. The relocation was necessary to facilitate a refurbishment of the permanent quarters occupied by both Puddles and his mate Cuddles. For the journey between enclosures, Puddles and Cuddles were crated. The crates were then moved by crane.

Link (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/26/BAGLRQ2AU91.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea).


That article has the funniest opening line I think I've ever read:

Puddles, a hippopotamus who charmed visitors by spinning his tail to scatter his excrement...

Markxxx
03-01-2009, 10:43 AM
What about usable parts. I mean they make ivory out of elephant tusks and hippo teeth. I assume they can sell those things right?

KarlGrenze
03-01-2009, 12:35 PM
What about usable parts. I mean they make ivory out of elephant tusks and hippo teeth. I assume they can sell those things right?

Depends on the institution and if they can use that for some research or study.

Kevbo
03-01-2009, 08:34 PM
http://bayequest.info/horsetalk/fairwell2.htm
Outside wilderness areas, the removal of a dead horse differs. On National Forest lands where other trail users "may be offended by the sight of a dead animal, bears may be attracted to the site or quick removal is necessary", the local ranger office has to be notified. That office will then contact a qualified blaster. The blaster's job is to blow the horse up! With up to or over 100 pounds of dynamite placed on, over and around the carcass, the fuse is lit and the horse blown to pieces. National Forest Service logic, no "large pieces" to attract bears, mountain lions which in turn would endanger human life. There is one caution to this procedure. Before lighting the fuse be sure to remove the iron shoes from the horse. If not, someone could get hit with flying shrapnel.

Chez Guevara
03-02-2009, 01:24 PM
http://bayequest.info/horsetalk/fairwell2.htm2/14/00 - Bonnie is correct about blowing up horses in wilderness. I am a retired Forest Ranger-blaster, we always used about 30 sticks of 60% geletin dynamite. This is usually the only practical method in rocky terrain. Cutting it up and packing it out is a ridiculous idea, whoever came up with such an idea, obviously has very, very limited experience in the wilderness or backcountry.

Retired Forest RangerThe information quoted from this site, and the above comment from a reader of the piece, is the subject of sceptical comments by a contributor to another horse forum (http://horsegroomingsupplies.com/horse-forums/blowing-up-the-carcass-of-dead-horse-172585-3.html) who also claims a connection with the Forest Service.

See posts #24 and #31.

In post #36, the same poster discovers a 'historical document' which explains exactly what explosive criteria are necessary for animal removal using this method.

Just for (anecdotal) information.

wevets
03-04-2009, 08:59 AM
Well, actually I think it's quite practical. But another part of the question is, once it's decided to bury say, a whale or an elephant, are hooks or something sunk into the corpse to drag it into the hole, or lift it by winching it up? Or is the corpse cut up and shoved piece by piece into the grave dug for it?

It depends on the size of the animal. For smaller whales, such as the Beaked Whales, Pygmy Sperm Whales, or most of the dolphins, you can cut it up and put it in the hole piece by piece. Lots of animals less than 800-1000 lbs we'll transport to necropsy and cut it up for the move to the rendering plant. For whales larger than 1000 lbs, the necropsy is done wherever it is found, and then a hole can be dug and the animal cut up for easy disposal.

For the extremely large whales (in my area, that's Sperm Whales, Grey Whales, Blue Whales, and Humpbacks) the necropsy is almost always done in place (there was one crazy incident in Taiwan recently where a large whale was transported to a lab for necropsy, and due to decompostion gases, it didn't turn out well.) We're talking about a necropsy where the incisions are made with chainsaws and our wonderfully tolerant veterinarian or research assistants stand literally hip-deep in whale flesh to get samples of the heart and liver tissue. When they're done, the hole is dug (if it's in a location where a hole can be dug,) and you need to wrap cables around the whale to pull it into the hole. Blue Whales can weigh up to 110 tons, so for this kind of operation you've got a couple backhoes and a bulldozer lying around. You can't efficiently cut up this size of whale (that would be as large a problem as digging the grave and burying it,) but often the flukes and fins of the whale get in the way when you're rolling it into the hole, so often those do get cut off.


With that whale I'm assuming the institute would want the skeleton at least relatively intact, so cutting might not be an option.


It doesn't really matter all that much. The intellectual demands of rearticulating a whale skeleton are not that great. We have a Bone CloneTM Pygmy Sperm Whale skeleton that we use for education, and I've taught classes as young as 4th grade to put the skeleton back together in 30 minutes or less. It's a great anatomy lesson.

Anyway, even if you bury the whale intact, digging it up 9-10 years later it will not necessarily still have an articulated skeleton. Beach sand shifts around a lot on that time scale.

What about usable parts. I mean they make ivory out of elephant tusks and hippo teeth. I assume they can sell those things right?

Many of those items (elephant ivory, whale parts) are illegal to buy and sell under the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (http://cites.org/). We don't want to help contribute to a market in elephant ivory or Sperm Whale scrimshaw. Every sample retained for scientific or educational use needs to be permitted through the National Marine Fisheries Service (for marine mammals in the United States.) It's not that big a paperwork hassle - the guys from NMFS know us and what we do with the parts. It would be a much bigger deal if someone unfamiliar to them asked for a permit. These parts cannot be sold. I'm sure a similar system applies to elephant tusks, although I'm unfamiliar with the details.

Really Not All That Bright
03-04-2009, 09:11 AM
The animal was put in a pick up truck by crates, taken all the way from Atlanta to Athens, and then a team of people worked on the necropsy, using tents to hide the body.
You mean a flatbed truck? I can't imagine how you could possibly fit a mature elephant into a pickup truck bed. I can't even fit my couch in one.
It depends on the size of the animal. For smaller whales, such as the Beaked Whales, Pygmy Sperm Whales, or most of the dolphins, you can cut it up and put it in the hole piece by piece. Lots of animals less than 800-1000 lbs we'll transport to necropsy and cut it up for the move to the rendering plant. For whales larger than 1000 lbs, the necropsy is done wherever it is found, and then a hole can be dug and the animal cut up for easy disposal.

For the extremely large whales (in my area, that's Sperm Whales, Grey Whales, Blue Whales, and Humpbacks) the necropsy is almost always done in place (there was one crazy incident in Taiwan recently where a large whale was transported to a lab for necropsy, and due to decompostion gases, it didn't turn out well.) We're talking about a necropsy where the incisions are made with chainsaws and our wonderfully tolerant veterinarian or research assistants stand literally hip-deep in whale flesh to get samples of the heart and liver tissue. When they're done, the hole is dug (if it's in a location where a hole can be dug,) and you need to wrap cables around the whale to pull it into the hole. Blue Whales can weigh up to 110 tons, so for this kind of operation you've got a couple backhoes and a bulldozer lying around. You can't efficiently cut up this size of whale (that would be as large a problem as digging the grave and burying it,) but often the flukes and fins of the whale get in the way when you're rolling it into the hole, so often those do get cut off.

It doesn't really matter all that much. The intellectual demands of rearticulating a whale skeleton are not that great. We have a Bone CloneTM Pygmy Sperm Whale skeleton that we use for education, and I've taught classes as young as 4th grade to put the skeleton back together in 30 minutes or less. It's a great anatomy lesson.

Anyway, even if you bury the whale intact, digging it up 9-10 years later it will not necessarily still have an articulated skeleton. Beach sand shifts around a lot on that time scale.

Many of those items (elephant ivory, whale parts) are illegal to buy and sell under the provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (http://cites.org/). We don't want to help contribute to a market in elephant ivory or Sperm Whale scrimshaw. Every sample retained for scientific or educational use needs to be permitted through the National Marine Fisheries Service (for marine mammals in the United States.) It's not that big a paperwork hassle - the guys from NMFS know us and what we do with the parts. It would be a much bigger deal if someone unfamiliar to them asked for a permit. These parts cannot be sold. I'm sure a similar system applies to elephant tusks, although I'm unfamiliar with the details.
wevets, this is among the 10 most fascinating posts I've ever read. In a sort of ghoulish, morbid way, of course.

Backcountry Medic
03-04-2009, 10:43 AM
That article has the funniest opening line I think I've ever read:

Also the later line:

"People would line up to see Puddles take a dump," former penguin keeper Jane Tollini told The Chronicle three years ago when the zoo was celebrating its 75th anniversary.

I can think of a lot of charming things about San Francisco. I wouldn't say that an excrement flinging hippo was one of them.

Elendil's Heir
03-04-2009, 12:15 PM
...For the extremely large whales (in my area, that's Sperm Whales, Grey Whales, Blue Whales, and Humpbacks) the necropsy is almost always done in place (there was one crazy incident in Taiwan recently where a large whale was transported to a lab for necropsy, and due to decompostion gases, it didn't turn out well.)....

I tell ya, Wiki has an article for just about everything: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploding_whale

KarlGrenze
03-04-2009, 01:03 PM
You mean a flatbed truck? I can't imagine how you could possibly fit a mature elephant into a pickup truck bed. I can't even fit my couch in one.


Dude, hell no!!! Not even dead horses fit on those things, and we get our share of dead horses from outside the school, too!

No, I meant either the big freight-type trucks or (in the case of horses), the regular transport trucks (which are built/designed to have horses in them). A covered freight truck, as one of the last things that Zoo Atlanta would've liked is for the public to see some car with the zoo logo hauling a dead elephant all the way from Atlanta to Athens.

wevets
03-05-2009, 08:56 PM
wevets, this is among the 10 most fascinating posts I've ever read. In a sort of ghoulish, morbid way, of course.


Thanks! I think I'll have a new slogan: wevets - feeding ghoulish forensic fascinations since 2009. :)

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