Wednesday, June 11, 2014


 Last Wednesday morning, June 4, Sanctuary Manager Joe Hoffmann was saddened to find that  Gomez the Red-legged Seriema had died in his enclosure on the World Bird Sanctuary exhibit line.  He apparently died in his sleep.

Gomez with a prize
Gomez was very old, having been hatched at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington in 1991.  A Red-legged Seriema’s life expectancy in captivity is estimated as 10-20 years.  At 23 years old Gomez surpassed even the maximum life expectancy.

Gomez arrived at the World Bird Sanctuary in 1992 and began his training to participate in educational programs.  His specialty was to demonstrate how his species, native to South America, hunts in the wild by capturing prey and slamming it against the ground to kill it.  According to WBS Director, Jeff Meshach, Gomez was our best and most reliable “slammer.”  He spent the majority of his education program career at Busch Gardens Tampa in the World Bird Sanctuary’s educational shows at that facility.  We are sure that he educated well over two million people while in Florida.

In 2004 he was retired from performing and paired with another Seriema in our breeding program.  However, as you can see from the photo, he had not forgotten how to “slam.”  He is pictured with a tree frog that he found and caught in his enclosure, and of which he seemed very proud.  The morning this photo was taken he seemed to be showing off his prize to anyone who would pay attention.

Gomez will be missed by all—staff, interns, volunteers and visitors alike. 

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer/Photographer

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