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Zoo mourns loss of third Masai giraffe

In a string of sad events, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is mourning the loss of yet another giraffe.

Cami, a 6-year-old Masai giraffe, passed away over the weekend following a C-section.

She collapsed around 1am on December 8 and was unable to rise.

Initial blood work suggested acute kidney failure, but a full necropsy will be conducted with pathology results expected in approximately six weeks, according to a release from the Zoo.

Cami went into labor in the afternoon of December 4.

As Cami’s labor progressed, zoo staff noticed that the calf was coming out rear hooves first, presenting a situation that often times results in the death of a calf as they’re usually born front hooves first.

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In order to do everything possible to save both mom and baby, the Columbus Zoo animal care team made the decision to intervene and attempt to manually extract the calf but had no success.

They then performed an emergency C-section at approximately 8pm.

After the calf was extracted, the veterinary team found that the calf had serious congenital defects and thus would not have survived even if it had been born front hooves first.

 There are only three documented reports of a giraffe dam surviving a Cesarean section, none of which occurred in North America.

The loss of Cami and her calf follows the loss of another Masai giraffe, Zuri’s calf, Ubumwe, who sadly passed away on the morning of November 17.

While regular wellness checks conducted by the animal health team had previously shown that she was growing and developing appropriately, Ubumwe’s behavior and appearance began to change on November 16, and her health suddenly deteriorated. 

Despite all efforts, the calf did not survive.

At this time, the definitive cause of her death is still unknown until a full pathology report is received. However, there is no indication that the cause of Ubumwe’s passing was related to Cami’s health challenges after her difficult delivery and subsequent Cesarean section, or the passing of her calf, who had severe congenital defects.

“Our devoted team is truly devastated but continues to be lifted by the outpouring of concern and support we have received from giraffe lovers from around the world. The Columbus Zoo’s animal care experts made heroic efforts to try and save Cami and the calves. Every individual animal in our care is extremely important not only to us, but to their species, and as giraffe populations are declining rapidly in their native ranges, it is up to all of us to help protect them. Working to help vulnerable species like giraffes comes with both triumphant and heartbreaking moments, and even during this sad time, I am proud of the Columbus Zoo’s work on behalf of animals in our care as well as our continued commitment to the conservation of giraffes in Africa,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO Tom Stalf.

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