Giraffe dies at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

This September 2017 photo shows Zahra, left, with her then-young calf, Kita, during one of their first visits to the giraffe exhibit after Kita's birth. The yellow caution tape is designed to alert Kita to the protective fencing around the exhibit. ( file photo)

Zahra, one of the reticulated giraffes at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, has died. The zoo posted the information recently on its Facebook page.

Zahra, who gave birth to daughter Kita last August, died July 5, the zoo’s post said. The 8-year-old Zahra, who was born at the Fort Wayne zoo in fall 2009 and was one of several giraffes there, had been ill and receiving veterinary care since June 21.

“Zahra first seemed to have a mild lameness in mid-June and later showed decreased appetite,” Dr. Kami Fox, the zoo’s staff veterinarian, was quoted as saying in the Facebook post. “Because of the excellent animal training from our Animal Care Team, we were able to obtain blood samples during her illness for diagnostics and to monitor her response to treatment.

“Despite the weeks of supportive care and diet supplementation, she developed digestive issues, causing a life-threatening condition and her ultimate death,” Fox reported.

“Zahra was loved by all, and her loss is felt deeply,” the zoo’s post said.

The zoo celebrated World Giraffe Day on June 21 to create more awareness about the huge African mammals and the threats their species faces in the wild.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports giraffes face four major threats to survival in the wild:

• Habitat loss caused by deforestation, conversion of land to other uses, increased farming and human population growth.

• Civil unrest, including ethnic violence, rebel militias and military operations.

• Illegal hunting of the animals.

• Ecological changes, such as mining work, conversion of land to farming and factors related to climate change, such as drought.