"Evidence," an injured zebra who made headlines upon his arrival in Henry County more than two years ago, has died.
The four-legged wonder died Nov. 20, but officials at Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children's Care Home in Locust Grove, announced his death Thursday after an autopsy was conducted.
Noah's Ark will hold a memorial service in Evidence's honor Jan. 8, 2011, at 1 p.m., at the facility. "We will gather near his habitat to pay a tribute to this true little striped hero," said Diane Smith, assistant to Noah's Ark Director Jama Hedgecoth.
Autopsy results from Auburn University indicate that the zebra, who was nearly 3 years old, died from a "system-wide infection," according to Smith. The zebra's death was "sudden," she said. "That morning, he was fine," she said. "that afternoon, it was very evident that he was sick."
Evidence was about 2- to 3-months old when he was brought to the Ark in 2008. Smith said the animal had been found "out of transport," injured along Interstate 75 in Butts County, and was brought to the facility to recover. His death was "always a possibility," she acknowledged.
"When he came here, he had to have two surgeries to put in a stent where his urethra was shattered," said Smith. "The stent failed, and allowed urine to back up in his body. It caused a system-wide infection."
She added that a pair of veterinarians examined Evidence, and determined he needed to be taken to the veterinary school at Auburn University, where his earlier surgeries were performed. The zebra died in a trailer en route to the university, she said.
Staff members at Noah's Ark have been deeply affected Evidence's passing, according to Smith. "It's especially hard for Jama, and the ones that gave direct care to him," said Smith. "Evidence brought something rare and irreplaceable to Noah's Ark, and to the hearts of many who came to love him. We feel like God used this little zebra to reach out to those who needed to glimpse a hero — a survivor — the true Evidence of love."
Hedgecoth described Evidence as "a member of my family." She said, although she and her fellow staffers knew he might not live a long life, they are hurt his death.
"We are mourning him as a family member," Hedgecoth said. "His courage and spirit touched countless lives, in the short time he was here. He was so special. There will never be another Evidence."
Donations to the Ark, she added, will be accepted in memory of the zebra. "Gifts may be designated to the Evidence Memorial Fund, or to further develop the Noah's Ark Pet Cemetery, which will be the final resting place for his body."
For more details, call Noah's Ark at (770) 957-0888.