Dallas Zoo Investigation Finds Consecutive Giraffe Deaths Were Unrelated

Death of Giraffes at Dallas Zoo Investigation complete
Dallas Zoo giraffes. | Image from Dallas Morning News

An investigation into the deaths of two adult giraffes at the Dallas Zoo has concluded and reportedly determined that the deaths were unrelated.

Both giraffes died within a week of each other in October. Augie passed first at age 19, then Jesse passed at age 14.

The zoo noticed Augie was sick on October 19, and workers administered anti-inflammatory medicine. The next day Augie was not eating but drinking water. His condition got worse, and on the 22nd, zoo workers euthanized him.

On October 27, the zoo noticed Jesse was acting sick. Zoo workers performed blood tests, provided treatments, and hooked him up to an IV, but his condition did not improve similarly to Augie’s. The zoo made the difficult decision to euthanize him on the 29th.

The zoo initially believed the deaths were related due to the proximity in time of their deaths and that both experienced similar symptoms. A toxin or contagious zoonotic disease were possible culprits. The zoo even sent plants from the giraffe exhibits to be tested for potential poisons.

The conclusion that the deaths were not related is based on roughly 200 lab tests and consultations from numerous outside experts. The results showed Augie died of severe hepatitis and liver failure, while Jesse had colitis, an inflamed colon.

“The timing was just the worst timing ever,” said Harrison Edell, vice president of animal care and conservation at the Dallas Zoo.

Augie and Jesse were the second and third giraffe deaths to rock the Dallas Zoo in October. Earlier in the month, the zoo was forced to euthanize a 3-month old calf named Marekani.

Marekani suffered irreparable leg fractures on an inclined section of her habitat. In response, the zoo updated the exhibit’s terrain and installed more cameras to monitor the giraffe’s actions closely.

Giraffes in captivity usually live to be up to 25 years old.

Moving forward, zoo veterinarians have said they are considering continuing with regular blood tests on the zoo’s six remaining giraffes as a precaution.

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