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Reid Park Zoo euthanizes oldest giraffe due to health issues

Reid Park Zoo said 32-year-old giraffe Denver was euthanized Thursday, Sept., 23, due to health...
Reid Park Zoo said 32-year-old giraffe Denver was euthanized Thursday, Sept., 23, due to health issues.(Reid Park Zoo)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 11:17 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Reid Park Zoo euthanized its oldest giraffe on Thursday, Sept., 23, due to health issues.

The zoo said 32-year-old Denver had a “declining quality of life, related to health concerns common in geriatric animals.”

Denver, the oldest giraffe ever at Reid Park Zoo, far exceeded her species’ median life expectancy of 20 years.

“Losing Denver is much bigger than her herd saying goodbye,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Reid Park Zoo director of zoo operations. “Our three remaining giraffes will miss her, but her passing is profoundly sad for all of her human fans as well.

“She touched so many staff over the years as a gentle and curious giraffe. Denver was always the first giraffe in line to interact with her care team and to spy on whatever her zookeepers were doing. She connected with our guests year after year in giraffe feeding encounters. Some children grew up feeding her on every trip to the zoo. She will be greatly missed by all.”

The zoo said while Denver has been healthy throughout her life, she had lost a lot of muscle mass, was eating less and wasn’t moving as well over the last month.

“Despite successful long-term treatments and therapies, it became clear these conditions could no longer be medically managed and the decision to proceed with humane euthanasia was in Denver’s best interest,” said Dr. Alexis Roth, the zoo’s chief veterinarian.

The zoo said after Denver was euthanized, her herd mates 10-year-old Jasiri, 3-year-old Penelope and 2-year-old Sota had the opportunity to see her and to say goodbye.

Staff will keep an eye on the herd to ensure “all three are well as the herd dynamics shift with the loss of Denver.”

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