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Lucy's Veterinarian Passes Away

posted 5 Jan 2015, 11:08 by Rob Laidlaw

Man who tended to Lucy the elephant dies

By , Edmonton Sun

First posted: Saturday, May 03,

A man who fought vigorously against animal rights activists who wanted to see Lucy the Elephant moved to an animal sanctuary, has died.

Doctor Milton Ness, a chief veterinarian at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, passed away last week.

The Valley Zoo Development Society confirmed Ness’ passing on Facebook Saturday afternoon.

“We would like to acknowledge the loss of an important member of our Edmonton Valley Zoo family. Dr. Milton Ness, a passionate and dedicated friend to all animals,” the statement read.

“Our thoughts are with his family and all of his co-workers at this difficult time. He will be greatly missed.”

But like some of his endeavours, that post attracted some negative comments, primarily linked to his fight to keep Lucy in Edmonton.

Ness has been a vocal proponent of keeping the pachyderm in our city -- she’s been here for most of her 37-years -- as he says the move to a sanctuary in the Southern United States would likely kill her.

The Society quickly put a stop to the negativity, saying “using this post to further you personal agenda, cause grief to the family and friends of a man who was respected, loved and dedicated his life to animals is unacceptable.”

Others however noted how much Ness had touched their lives in his career that spanned some 30 odd years.

“So sorry to hear this,” wrote Judy Dehoog. “He was our first veterinarian many years ago. His passion for Edmonton’s animals will truly be missed.”

Ness graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon in 1982.

He came to the Valley Zoo as a full time vet back in 2007 -- after studying at the University of Saskatchewan and getting his start working on bison and elk at a rural clinic.

In 2012, Ness was honoured by the Alberta Veterinarian Medical Association for his exceptional communication with Edmonton residents.

The city was unable to comment on what will happen with future care of Lucy and other zoo animals while they work to find a replacement.