Dallas Zoologists were puzzled by a string of three tragic giraffe deaths in October, seemingly at random. However, on early Monday morning, the Dallas Zoo released a statement regarding a possible shared cause for the deaths. The zoo told WFAA that only six giraffes remain in their herd.
Zoo officials told Dallas Morning News that the suspected culprit of the giraffes’ passing is narrowed down to either a particular toxin or a “contagious zoonotic disease.” Staff noticed a trend after performing a necropsy on two giraffes.
Zoologists state that both had liver damage. The two giraffes, Jesse and Auggie, suffered from liver damage and died within a week of each other. Jesse and Auggie were 14 and 19 years old, respectively, an unfortunate age to pass.
According to the New York Times, many giraffes can live up to 25 years. Jesse and Auggie had shared similar symptoms before their death, Dallas Zoo told reporters.
The zoo told reporters that they were still conducting tests, including precautionary toxicology screening. Dallas Zoo states it is a top priority to eliminate any elements of the giraffe’s diet or habitat that could cause liver damage.
The zoo’s statement reads, “Our most immediate concern is to do everything possible to isolate these tragic events and protect the other animals entrusted in our care. We have put several preventative measures in place across our animal teams to help minimize possible risks from food sources and other environmental exposures.”
The remaining giraffes and similar species at the zoo are being closely monitored, WFAA reports. The Dallas Express reported in early October, a 3-month-old calf, Marekani, was euthanized after being injured, the first of three giraffe deaths.
The Dallas Zoo modified the giraffe exhibit after the injury to make a safer space for young calves. As of now, the zoo draws no connection between the death of the calf and the two most recent deaths.