Animal News

Auggie is the second giraffe to die at Dallas Zoo in one month

Auggie is the second giraffe to die at Dallas Zoo in one month

Auggie giraffe
Auggie was 19. Dallas Zoo

Another animal has died at The Dallas Zoo, the fourth one in 2021. This time, it was a 19-year-old giraffe named Auggie, who the zoo said died of age-related issues.

"Unfortunately, we've also experienced another tragic loss in our giraffe family," said the zoo on an October 25 Facebook post. "19-year-old Auggie passed away this weekend after dealing with age-related health issues that led to liver failure."

Giraffe Conservation Foundation says that giraffes live to be about 25 years old.

The zoo's disclosure of the death was buried at the bottom of their explanation regarding the death of another giraffe, Marekani, who was euthanized by the zoo in early October after suffering an unexplained injury they could not fix.

The zoo said that their findings showed that "Marekani and a few of the adult giraffes were running along an inclined section of the habitat when one of her front legs planted in the ground at the top of the incline, causing her leg to hyperextend. We believe one of the adult giraffes was then unable to stop fast enough, colliding with Marekani from behind — the impact of which caused fractures to her radius and ulna."

"The Dallas Zoo provides the most naturalistic environments possible for our animals," but "unfortunately, those natural surroundings have inherent risks, just as they do in the wild, where giraffes have a 50 percent mortality rate in their first year of life."

Regardless of how many giraffes die in the wild, the zoo sidesteps what seems to be the real issue: There's never enough space in a zoo for wildlife.

In the wild, giraffes roam and graze in an area ranging from 8 to 60 square miles.

At the Dallas Zoo, giraffes get 6 acres, and they don't even get all that space. They must share that 6 acres with a Noah's Ark menagerie that the zoo loves to boast about. "Just like in the wild!" Except that in the wild, all those animals are not cramped in together in the equivalent of a fenced-in backyard.

Their Giants of the Savanna exhibit comprises 11 acres total, split between giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, impala, zebras, ostriches, guineafowl, warthogs, red river hogs, and African wild dogs.

But of those 11 acres, five are set aside for elephants — leaving 6 for the rest.

Comparing the numbers:

  • In the wild, giraffes can roam 8 to 60 miles.
  • 60 miles = 38,400 acres.
  • One mile = 640 acres.
  • Dallas Zoo = 6 acres.

To be split with a Noah's Ark of other animals.

The zoo says that, "the Giants of the Savanna habitat cannot be made accident-proof [but] we, alongside giraffe experts in the AZA, have closely evaluated the situation and have identified some changes we will make to help mitigate risks and reduce the chances of future incidents like this."

Their solutions:

  • add substrate material in areas that show erosion
  • install cameras, even as they acknowledge that "cameras would not have prevented [the Marekani] incident."

Cameras would not prevent a death but cameras will allow them to check the tape for the next accident they miss, and help avoid what happened with the death of Marekani, which was two weeks of people asking "what happened" on Facebook and them not having an answer.

These other animals have died at the Dallas Zoo:

  • Marekani, a 3-month-old baby giraffe, sustained a mysterious injury and was euthanized on October 3, 2021.
  • 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.

The zoo has also lost animals: In February they 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.