Nero, a 9-year-old wolf at the Irvine Regional Park zoo, has died of complications from last month's surgery to remove a piece of a sweat shirt that the animal had swallowed. A zoo visitor apparently had thrown it into his pen, zoo officials said Sunday.
Zoo veterinarian Larry Kosmin surgically removed the six-inch shirt strip on Aug. 5 after the wolf became ill. Some of Nero's stitches burst about a week later, but after that he appeared to improve, zoo officials said.
Last week, however, further complications from the surgery developed, and Nero was put to sleep Friday night to spare the animal any further suffering, zoo officials said.
"We're all just sick about it," said Scott Pritchard, one of the zoo keepers. "We were very attached to him."
The zoo at Irvine Regional Park, located at the end of Chapman Avenue, east of the City of Orange, is a small facility with just 123 animals on 1.5 acres, according to Pritchard.
Nero was one of four wolves at the zoo. Two females and a male are left.