Utah’s Hogle Zoo says goodbye to 15-year-old giraffe Kipenzi

Utah's Hogle Zoo is mourning the death of Kipenzi, a 15-year-old giraffe. Photo Courtesy: Utah's Hogle Zoo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 15, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah’s Hogle Zoo is mourning the death of Kipenzi, a 15-year-old giraffe.

“With broken hearts, the animal care team made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Kip, Friday, July 12, after she began showing signs of gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction,” said a press release from the Zoo. “Keepers noted Kip’s appetite severely decreased in early July and she did not pass feces.”

Necropsy, or animal autopsy, results showed gastric ulcers in one of Kip’s four stomach chambers and areas of bloating and redness in her intestine which appeared to have shut down, the press release said. Tissue samples were taken for further testing and microscopic analysis by expert zoo pathologists.

Extensive efforts were made on Kip’s behalf including new medications and multiple procedures, the press release said. After exhausting all treatment options and supportive measures, it became apparent Kipenzi was not going to recover.

“Due to Kip’s good nature, the animal care team inserted and maintained a catheter in Kip’s neck vein allowing them to administer antibiotics intravenously for over a month,” the press release said. “This has never been done before in an adult giraffe.”

“Kipenzi was the most special giraffe any of us have ever known,” said Melissa Farr, Lead Keeper, African Savanna. “She taught many new keepers the ropes of giraffe care, and continues to inspire awe in seasoned keepers with her amazing demeanor.”

“She was so much more than a giraffe,” said Holly Peterson, who cared for Kip for 14 years. “She was my friend, my co-worker and part of my family. She taught me so much and brought so many amazing people into my life. She was also a calm influence on new giraffes, like Minka, and taught them it’s okay to trust us.”

“She loved her fans,” said Farr. “If we needed to distract her for medications or something, we’d invite a group of staff to come visit her. She knew she had a loyal following.”

“She also loved to be the center of attention,” Peterson added. “She’d find ways to get our attention, like pick up our rakes. She figured out she’d get a treat if she gave them back.”

Kip came to Hogle Zoo, from Brookfield Zoo, in 2005. She moved from the old giraffe barn to the new African Savanna in 2014, the press release said.

“She was a three-time mother and a wonderful ‘auntie’ to 10 month-old Georgetta and to new arrival, 2-year-old Minka who recently came to us from Fossil Rim two weeks ago and is still in quarantine in the giraffe barn,” the press release said. “Along with the young giraffes, the Zoo also has adult female Pogo and male, Riley. The Zoo continues to work in conjunction with AZA, SSP (Species Survival Plan).”


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