Beloved Hogle Zoo giraffe passes away

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah Hogle Zoo Community is mourning the loss of one of their reticulated giraffes Friday.

Riley, an 18-year-old senior member of the Hogle Zoo Community, is being remembered for his towering personality. Zoo Officials call him the most gregarious member of the herd.

Staff members say for the past couple of months, they noticed age-related challenges with Riley’s mobility. Riley was being kept under observation and under veterinary treatment for arthritis.

When Zoo staff entered the giraffe barn on Dec. 23, they found him unable to stand on his own. Standing at 17 feet tall, and weighing in at 2,000 pounds, it was a challenge for zoo staff to get him on his feet.

“Alongside zoo staff and emergency personnel, the Salt Lake City Fire Department and Wagstaff Crane Service were on scene to assist with an all-day tireless attempt to hoist the animal to get him to his feet,” a press release says.

Despite the effort, Riley was unable to stand on his own. As his condition worsened, Riley passed later in the day on Dec 23.

“Hogle Zoo staff, and our partners who showed up immediately to assist with this giraffe emergency, did everything possible to help Riley but his condition was too advanced, said Dr. Erika Crook, Director of Animal Health. “We had wonderful support from other AZA colleagues who have experienced similar scenarios.” 

Riley arrived at Hogle Zoo in June 2004, and since then sired six giraffe calves. Currently, the zoo is home to two other reticulated giraffes, Minka a four-year-old female and Stephanie a three-year-old female.

According to the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums Giraffe cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan, the average lifespan for a male reticulated giraffe is 14.7 years and according to Associate Director of Animal Care, Bob Cisneros, “Riley was truly a giant; without a doubt, the first animal to stand out amongst others as guests first enter the zoo. He touched the hearts of many as a tall and dignified ambassador especially during our giraffe feeds.” 

Officials are still investigating the exact cause of Riley’s death.

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