“She showed some signs of moving food through her system on Sunday, but her symptoms were getting more severe on Monday, and we felt it was humane to kill her,” Ivets said. In a statement, he called Willow’s death an “enormous loss,” and the cause of her death remains unknown.
An autopsy was performed this week, but it didn’t show “anything conclusive as to the cause of death,” Ivets said. Zoo officials are still awaiting the results of disease samples sent to Johns Hopkins, and hope they will provide more details about the cause of her death. Evitts said they expect results from Hopkins in the coming weeks.
Born in 2017, Willow has become a local celebrity. Her birth was unique in that she was the first giraffe born at the facility in 20 years, and more than 26,000 people voted for her.
The baby giraffe at the Maryland Zoo is named after Willow
The zookeepers said in a statement that Willow has gone from being “a whimsical calf that looks like pigtails to a beautiful icon of the zoo and its endangered species.” They said her presence at the feeding station would be wasted.
Her father, Caesar, is still at the zoo, but her mother, Juma, died of lymphoma in November 2017. In the same year, another giraffe named Julius died after a long illness. He was only a month old, and an autopsy showed that he had lesions on the left side of his brain.
The Maryland Zoo has another giraffe – a female named Casey. The facility is the third oldest zoo in the United States, established in 1876. It houses about 1,500 animals and is located in the Druid Hill Park neighborhood near downtown Baltimore.
Giraffes are native to Africa, and their population has declined by 40 percent over the past three decades, experts said. They are considered “vulnerable” under a list drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
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