Denver, the oldest giraffe ever at the Reid Park Zoo, was euthanized Thursday because of health concerns common in geriatric animals.
At 32 years old, Denver was the second-oldest giraffe in her Species Survival Plan and exceeded the median life expectancy by 12 years.
“Losing Denver is much bigger than her herd saying goodbye,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, director of zoo operations in a news release. “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.”
According to a news release from Reid Park Zoo, Denver was healthy throughout her life, but in the last month she had been eating less, her movement had become less fluid and she developed tenderness in her hip area.
Dr. Alexis Roth, the chief veterinarian at Reid Park Zoo, said it became clear Denver’s conditions could no longer be medically managed, and humane euthanasia was in her best interest.
Reid Park Zoo’s other giraffes, Jasiri, 10, Penelope, 3, and Sota, 2, had the opportunity to say goodbye to Denver. The zoo’s staff will monitor the giraffes in the coming weeks to make sure they are well as the herd dynamics shift.
“Denver was an incredible ambassador for her species and will be deeply missed at the zoo,” said Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoological Society’s president and CEO, in a news release. “Over the years she inspired millions of people to connect with nature and to care about giraffes as a species, and she brought the zoo staff joy every day.”