Zoo Atlanta said a sudden and difficult goodbye on Tuesday.
According to the zoo, Zuberi, an 8-year-old male reticulated giraffe, died under the animal park’s care after getting his neck “wedged in a small space in a metal railing” at the facility’s off-exhibit giraffe complex.
In a statement on the tragic accident, the zoo says that Zuberi was in the “behind-the-scenes giraffe complex,” an area he was familiar with, when the incident occurred Tuesday afternoon.
Moments before the adult giraffe became wedged, he was observed by his caretakers acting normal. Minutes later, when Zuberi became wedged, the care team responded immediately “with the Veterinary Team and large-mammal animal care specialists on the scene” as well.
Unfortunately, they were not able to save Zuberi, who died shortly after becoming wedged in the railing.
“The Zoo Atlanta family, and especially those animal care team members who are with the giraffes daily, are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic and unexpected loss. Zuberi showed no signs of injury, illness or distress in the moments prior to this event,” Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions said in a statement about the shocking death. “Our Animal Care and Veterinary Teams responded to the emergency right away, but despite their immediate and heroic efforts, were not able to save Zuberi.”
The zoo is planning to conduct a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death and says it will reveal the results in the coming weeks.
To prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again the giraffe complex is being thoroughly reviewed, even though all animal areas in the zoo undergo safety checks daily.
Dr. Jennifer Mickelberg, vice president of collections and conservation, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Zuberi’s death was an “extraordinarily unusual situation.” Keepers are unsure how the giraffe found itself wedged in the railing since “it’s not like a railing where a child could put their head through.”
For now, the rest of Zuberi’s herd, made up of three adult males, are being kept away from the area where the death occurred. The zoo says the other giraffes are “behaving normally” following the loss.
This is the second sudden giraffe death the zoo has experienced in the past five years. In 2013, a 7-year-old female named Mona collpased while off exhibit, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her cause of death was determined to be internal bleeding and hemorrhaging.