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Giraffe calf dies hours after birth at Santa Barbara Zoo

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Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 20:56:08-04

A Masai giraffe calf born at the Santa Barbara Zoo was euthanized hours after being born, according to zoo officials.

Zoo staff say Audrey gave birth to a female giraffe calf around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday and hours later, "began displaying concerning complications."

After working throughout the night to provide care to the calf, staff says the animal's condition did not improve and after determining the calf would not survive, the "difficult decision" for humane euthanasia was made.

"We share this news with a very heavy heart," shared Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo's vice president of animal care and health. "Audrey began to show signs of labor around 6:00 p.m. on July 21, and the calf was born at approximately 7:45 p.m. Immediately following the delivery, the calf was not showing normal behavior, appeared weak and was unable to stand on its own. The calf exhibited several potential congenital abnormalities that the animal care team suspects contributed to the calf's lack of responsiveness and inability to get up. It is also possible that the calf may have experienced some sort of fetal distress in-utero or during birth. Our devoted animal care team cared for the calf and her mother, Audrey, around the clock after the birth, and despite tremendous efforts, there was no improvement in the calf's condition. Taking into consideration the calf's very poor prognosis for survival, we made the decision to euthanize her this morning. A necropsy will be performed at the UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino."

The results of the necropsy and a pathology report will help zoo staff understand the calf's health complications.

Audrey is being monitored and said to be in "stable" condition.

The calf was the second to be born at the Santa Barbara Zoo this year.

In March, Masai giraffe Adia gave birth to a boy named Twiga, who is now on display.

The Santa Barbara Zoo participates in an AZA endangered species programs for Masai giraffes.

Eight giraffes, all sired by father Michael, have been born at the zoo since 2013.

The zoo says the 13-year-old giraffe is the most genetically important male Masai giraffe in the United States, as he has no other relatives besides his offspring.

After closing due to COVID-19 concerns, the zoo is back open, but reservations must be made online in advance and masks worn by visitors while on the premises.