ALEXANDRIA, La. -- A popular attraction at the Alexandria Zoo is temporarily closed. The koi pond, that was once bubbling with hundreds of fish is shut down, because almost all of them died.
News Channel Five's Brooke Buford stopped by the zoo to talk with visitors about the beloved attraction and with zoo keepers about losing the collection and how they plan to restock.
The koi pond at the Alexandria Zoo holds a lot of meaning for Darrell Guillory and his fiance, Claire .
"We celebrated our engagement at a koi pond and that's how I proposed to her, in front of one," said Guillory. "We love feeding the fish."
But when the couple arrived to the zoo this time to feed the fish, they were in for a surprise. The koi pond that was once teeming with hundreds of the colorful fish is now closed.
"When there's no fish and all the things are closed saying you can't feed them, it kind of breaks your heart a little bit," he said.
Zoo keepers say they've lost almost the entire collection of koi. A pond that used to have around 500 fish, at about $100 a fish, has been reduced to about a dozen. The others mysteriously died off last week.
"Usually during the summer with the heat and the other elements combined, you usually have a few fish that die in a large collection like that," said Lee Ann Whitt, director of the zoo. "It didn't alarm us right at the beginning. But, then it seemed to be within a few days we had a larger amount die and then one day we came in and we had about half the collection gone."
Whitt says they closed the exhibit to clean it up and the dead fish were sent to the LSU vet school for testing. The few fish that remain are being watched closely and she says the community has rallied around bringing the rest of the fish back.
"Very supportive in helping to get the fish back," she said. "We've had several people that wanted to help us do a fundraiser. On our Facebook page we had a company out of Florida that wants to help us get the fish back."
Dustin McKnight, another visitor, says the fish are an important part of what makes the zoo special.
His family is just one of the many around town who want to lend support to replenishing the zoo's koi collection.
"It's awesome. It's very, very awesome that the community is gathering around to do that," he said. "I think that's very important for the community to do that for the zoo."
The zoo expects to have the fish restocked in about a month. And they hope the new fish will this pond home for a long time to come.
Zoo keepers say they don't know exactly what could have killed the fish. They're expecting test results back from LSU vet school in the next few days.