Hogle Zoo’s 18-year-old giraffe dies

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Efforts to get Riley back on his feet failed.

(Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune) Little baby giraffe gets a lick from his father, Riley, inside his enclosure at Huggle Zoo in Salt Lake City on Thursday, December 6, 2007.

An 18-year-old reticulated giraffe named Riley, who became a staple at the Huggle Zoo in Utah, died Thursday.

According to zoo officials, Riley has been experiencing “some age-related challenges with his mobility” – including arthritis – in recent months. He appears to be in good condition, according to a press release from the zoo.

(Hugel Zoo) A crane is brought in to try to bring Riley the giraffe back to life, but the effort is unsuccessful.

But on Thursday morning, zoo staff discovered Riley was unable to stand alone.

Zoo staff, emergency personnel from the Salt Lake City Fire Department and a crane from the Wagstaff Crane Service attempted to bring the giraffe, which is about 17 feet long and 2,000 pounds to its feet, but was unsuccessful. He died later in the day.

“Hogle Zoo staff and our partners who came immediately to help in this giraffe emergency did everything they could to help Riley, but his condition was very advanced,” said Dr. Erica Crook, director of animal health at Hogle Zoo.

According to Huggle’s Assistant Director of Animal Welfare, Bob Cisneros, the average life span of a male reticulated giraffe is 14.7 years.

“Riley was truly a giant – no doubt. The first animal that stood out among the others when guests first entered the zoo,” said Cisneros. “He touched the hearts of many as a long and gracious ambassador, especially while feeding our giraffe.”

Riley arrived at the Huggle Zoo in Utah on June 30, 2004, and gave birth to six giraffe calves. The zoo’s African savannah is home to two reticulated giraffes – 4-year-old Minka and 3-year-old Stephanie.


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