The Louisville Zoo celebrated baby elephant Fitz with a watermelon and banana “cake.”
Louisville Courier Journal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo announced its 23-year-old giraffe, Malaika, was euthanized Wednesday after experiencing health problems for several months.
Malaika, a female Masai giraffe, had been experiencing pain from musculoskeletal problems that caused stiffness, lameness and difficulty moving, according to the zoo.
Malaika was being managed with joint support products and pain medications, the zoo said, but “her pain could no longer be controlled,” and zookeepers and veterinarians made the decision on Wednesday to euthanize her.
Malaika, a 23-year-old female Masai giraffe at the Louisville Zoo, was euthanized after experiencing several months of health problems. (Photo: Louisville Zoo)
“This was a very tough decision to make, but when looking at Malaika’s deteriorating health, we knew it was the right decision to make,” said Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, senior zoo veterinatian.
Malaika was born at the Los Angeles Zoo and brought to the Louisville Zoo in 1997, where she gave birth to five bull calves between 2000-2012.
“Malaika had a good, long life and was able to thrive much longer because of the excellent care our staff provides,” John Walczak, director of the zoo, said in a statement. “The remnant wild is a tough place, and she would have never lived as long under the constant pressures of that environment. We hope the community will join us in remembering Malaika and the joy she brought to so many people.”
The Association of Zoos and Aquariams says the median life expectancy for female giraffes is about 20.2 years. Masai giraffes are native to East Africa but have suffered from habitat loss and illegal hunting and disease, according to the zoo.
The species was declared endangered last year because of poaching and changes in land use, National Geographic reported at the time. There are an estimated 35,000 Masai giraffes remaining.
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