Animal News

Baby giraffe Marekani dies at Dallas Zoo after unexplained injury

Baby giraffe Marekani dies at Dallas Zoo after unexplained injury

Marekani is the third baby giraffe to die at the Dallas Zoo in recent years. Dallas Zoo

Another animal has died at The Dallas Zoo, this time a 3-month-old baby giraffe named Marekani, who sustained what the zoo called "a catastrophic injury" beyond repair and was euthanized on October 3.

According to a post by the zoo, Marekani dislocated her right elbow and fractured her radius and ulna, which the zoo said was impossible to fix.

The post says that the zoo staff first noted the giraffe was limping on Saturday October 2.

Late in the day on Saturday, October 2, Marekani was observed walking with a limp, but shifted into the barn with the rest of the herd as she normally does. She and her mother, Chrystal were given their own space in the barn, allowing the team to be able to observe her more closely. The veterinary team performed a visual examination and did not see any external wounds, severe swelling, or deviation of the leg at that time. Pain medication was prescribed, along with a plan to allow her to rest overnight and re-evaluate her in the morning.
By Sunday morning, her swelling and lameness had worsened, so our veterinarians and animal care staff sedated her for evaluation. During this procedure, veterinarians determined that she had dislocated her right elbow and fractured both her radius and ulna. Due to their large stature and because giraffes bear the majority of their weight on the front limbs, it is nearly impossible to repair an injury like this in a way that is robust enough to stand up to the normal stress of movement and activity. Marekani had also fractured through her growth plate, meaning that the bone would not grow correctly and would result in long-term orthopedic deformities, lifelong pain, and arthritis.

Is it odd that the zoo staff saw a baby giraffe limping and their only response was to give pain meds? In defense of the zoo, it was a Saturday night. Things to do.

As is so often the case at the Dallas Zoo, the staff is clueless as to how the injury occurred.

"At this time, we are uncertain how Marekani sustained this injury, but we are working diligently to gather information," their post says. "As with any event like this, we will use this as an opportunity to evaluate every element of the situation and identify any changes we can make to prevent future incidents."

Marekani was born on July 4 and became part of a herd of nine giraffes.

She's the third baby giraffe to have died at the zoo in recent years: Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019, and Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015.

She represents the third animal death for the Dallas Zoo in 2021, joining a lengthy series of animal deaths that have occurred there:

  • Kirk, a 31-year-old chimpanzee, died in August 2021 due to "surprise" heart disease.
  • Keeya, a 6-year-old Hartmann's mountain zebra, died in March 2021 due to a mysterious unexplained head injury.
  • Subira, a 24-year-old silverback gorilla, died suddenly in March 2020, due to a cough, or maybe cardiovascular disease.
  • Hope, a 23-year-old Western lowland gorilla, died suddenly in November 2019 after being at the zoo for only two years.
  • Ola, an 8-year-old female African painted dog, was killed in July 2019 by two other painted dogs, less than a month after she was transferred to the zoo.
  • Witten, a 1-year-old giraffe, died in June 2019 during a physical exam under anesthesia when he suddenly stopped breathing.
  • Adhama, a baby hippopotamus, mysteriously died in 2018.
  • Kipenzi, a baby giraffe, died in 2015 after running in her enclosure.
  • Kamau, a young cheetah, died of pneumonia in 2014.
  • Johari, a female lion, was killed in front of zoo spectators in 2013 by male lions with whom she shared an enclosure.

In February, the zoo lost a crow called Onyx who was part of their so-called animal ambassador team, participating in a training session for a bird show. He was never found.