On Tuesday, February 20, 2007 Pancho the Zoo's male hippopotamus passed away after a short illness. Pancho had started showing signs of gastrointestinal distress Thursday. He refused to eat or drink and was unable to defecate. After consulting with several other zoos, staff began working with Pancho, not knowing if he was simply constipated or something more serious.
On Tuesday evening, with five staff members present, including, staff veterinarian Dr. Mike Nance, Pancho collapsed in his pool, dying. Zoo personnel conducted a necropsy Wednesday to determine Pancho's cause of death. Pancho died of an obstructed intestine caused by a child's ball. How or when Pancho swallowed the ball is unknown.