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City of Little Rock Public Relations
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Contact(s):Susan Altrui

Friday, March 14, 2008

Zoo Handles Johne’s Infection in Farm Animal Area

LITTLE ROCK (March 14, 2008) – Twelve animals in the children’s farm at the Little Rock Zoo are infected with Johne’s Disease (pronounced “yo-knees”), or paratuberculosis, a wasting disease of the lower intestine effecting ruminant animals.

The disease was discovered by Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Marilynn Baeyens after a routine blood test was performed on a male goat. Dr. Baeyens then took fecal samples from the goat to confirm the presence of the disease. All animals in the children’s farm were tested and twelve animals carry the disease.

Paratuberculosis is a bacterial disease commonly found in ruminant animals. It is non-transferable to humans. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 22% of U.S. dairy farms are infected with Johne’s. The disease causes severe diarrhea and eventual death for the infected animal. The disease is transmitted when an animal ingests manure or milk of an infected animal or is kept on previously infected ground. No effective method exists to kill the organism in the ground.

The Little Rock Zoo has quarantined the twelve infected animals and will euthanize them to prevent the disease from spreading to other animals. Infected animals include one cow, four sheep, and seven goats. The Zoo currently has 14 sheep, 22 goats, 2 cows, 2 donkeys, and 2 mini-horses in its children’s farm exhibit. The exhibit will be closed until further notice.

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit


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