It has been a devastating month for Ohio’s Columbus Zoo.
At the beginning of November, the zoo celebrated the birth of giraffe calf Ubumwe, but the excitement was short-lived: 18 days after Ubumwe was born, she died, her health suddenly failing in a few short hours.
This tragic loss was followed by another. On Dec. 4, Cami the giraffe went into labor. The zookeepers quickly realized that there was something wrong and that the calf “was presenting rear hooves first.” In hopes of avoiding further complications, Cami was given an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, the calf did not survive the procedure. The baby giraffe was found to have “serious congenital defects” that would’ve prevented the animal from surviving long after birth, even without the complications.
Sadly, this isn’t where the loss ends: on Saturday, the Columbus Zoo issued a press release announcing the death of Cami, the adult giraffe who underwent the emergency C-section.
“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is saddened to report the loss of Masai giraffe, Cami, four days after a Cesarean section. Cami, who was monitored around the clock by the Zoo’s animal care experts, collapsed at approximately 1 a.m. and was unable to rise,” zoo staff wrote in the release. “The veterinary team immobilized her to assess her condition and provide fluids, but she passed a short time later.”
According to the zoo, initial blood work points to acute kidney failure as the cause of death, but staff won’t be certain until a necropsy is performed. Results from the necropsy are expected in six weeks.
In the statement, the zoo acknowledged that it is rare for a giraffe to survive and recover from a C-section, but staff thought it would be the best choice to potentially save both mom and baby.
Losing the pair, plus Ubumwe, has left zoo staff heartbroken.
“Our devoted team is truly devastated but continues to be lifted by the outpouring of concern and support we have received from giraffe lovers from around the world,” the zoo’s president and CEO, Tom Stalf, said in the statement. “The Columbus Zoo’s animal care experts made heroic efforts to try and save Cami and the calves. Every individual animal in our care is extremely important not only to us, but to their species, and as giraffe populations are declining rapidly in the their native ranges, it is up to all of us to help protect them.”
Giraffes are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, with some giraffe subspecies listed as endangered.
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