Last week, animal care staff noticed nearly-year-old Masai giraffe T-Bone was lethargic, uninterested in food and producing diarrhea. Veterinary staff analyzed his blood and feces, discovering evidence of higher-than-normal quantities of gastrointestinal worms and anemia. He was immediately given antiparasitic medication and his condition appeared to improve.
On Thursday morning, keepers discovered T-Bone had died overnight. A necropsy confirmed the extremity of the infection resulted in severe blood loss.
Gastrointestinal worms are commonly found in giraffe both in human care and the wild as part of their “gut fauna,” albeit in smaller quantities. It is not immediately clear why they were so abundant in T-Bone.
The same parasites remain present in our other giraffe at normal levels. Although the animals are not exhibiting symptoms, keepers are keeping a close eye on their health. We are examining our parasite mitigation protocol to reduce the likelihood of a similar occurrence in the future.
This is a significant loss for our Zoo and the community at large. T-Bone was beloved for his intelligence and curiosity, quickly developing a “superstar” reputation for his success with hoof trim training.
We take comfort in the knowledge that, during his brief time with us, T-Bone inspired hundreds of thousands of Zoo guests to care more about Masai giraffe, which are considered endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. Those wishing to honor T-Bone are encouraged to contribute to Giraffe Conservation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting giraffe throughout their native range.