Zoo creates specialized ‘retirement homes’ for its senior animals

Everyone who is blessed enough to live into old age wants a nice safe home to spend their golden years in, one well-suited for senior citizens.

And the same goes for animals — old animals require a little extra love and care, and they deserve a special space just for them.

That’s why one zoo is dedicated to setting up “retirement homes” for its oldest residents, ensuring they get the best possible quality of life in their old age.

According to a press release, the Brevard Zoo, in Florida, sets up these retirement homes for their geriatric animals, defined as animals who have reached 80% of their expected lifespan.

Though every species in the zoo has a custom habitat with their needs in mind, these older animals are set up with special areas with special adjustments to their habitats, where they can receive extra attention like routine assessments, medication and specialized diets.

In their press release, the zoo highlighted three senior animals —Flounder the flying fox, Josie the tapir and lemurs Matilda and Kamots.

Founder is the zoo’s only flying fox and the 29-year-old bat has “far exceeded” her species’ life expectancy.


“Due to her advanced age and nocturnal disposition, Flounder lives in a behind-the-scenes area of the Zoo,” the Brevard Zoo wrote. “Her habitat is equipped with many special enrichment items like climbing structures to encourage her to be active, stuffed animals to keep her cozy, hideouts to give her options and a night house for daytime naps.”

They said that they put in a climbing structure so Flounder can easily explore whenever she wants, and she’s happy to use it.

“We have seen video footage of her flying all around her habitat, exploring all of her enrichments,” said Animal Keeper Mallory Bourne.

Josie, a 28-year-old Baird’s tapir, lives in the zoo’s “Wild Florida” section,” even though the species is not native to the state. The zoo just thought it would be “perfect for an older Baird’s tapir.”


“She has access to many different areas, lots of water for swimming and opportunities to socialize with the area’s other residents if she so desires,” the zoo wrote, noting she can travel to and from the “Rainforest Revealed” section to visit the other Baird’s tapirs.

And a pair of lemurs — 28-year-old male Kamots and 15-year-old Matilda — have their own island dubbed “Little Madagascar” separate from the lemur habitat, which is specially adapted to suit the older lemurs, with lower vines and night houses. The two lemurs are not mates, but are inseparable best friends.


According to the press release, these are just three examples of the animals who have “retirement homes” at the zoo. Others include Pepper the cheetah, Pete and Sapphire the siamangs and Makina and Fancy the Visayan warty pigs.

The extra attention to these senior animals is part of their “lifelong commitment” to care for animals, “no matter the species.”

“Here at the Zoo, we strive to provide the best possible care for the entirety of all our animals’ lives, including those who have surpassed their median life expectancies,” they wrote.

It’s so nice that these animals get their own retirement homes, specially tailored to their needs in old age. Thank you to this zoo for looking out for these senior animals!

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