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Six-year-old giraffe dies after getting caught in New York zoo's gate structure

By Ratziel San Juan Published Feb 15, 2023 6:04 pm

A six-year-old male Masai giraffe lost his life after his neck got entangled in an enclosure gate in a New York-based zoo.

Seneca Park Zoo announced the unexpected death of Parker, its only male giraffe, on social media on Feb. 13. According to zoo officials, the giraffe was fractured after he tried freeing himself from the enclosure, which eventually led to his death.

Seneca Park Zoo animal care staff immediately brought veterinary staff after finding Parker unresponsive at the Animals of the Savanna Building the day prior. 

Parker is survived by female giraffe partners Kipenzi and Iggy, as well as his child, Olmsted—who is less than a year old. He came to the Seneca Park Zoo from the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2018. During his stay, he earned a reputation for being curious and playful.

"He had been in excellent health prior to this and was a joy to both staff and visitors," the zoo's veterinarian Chris McKinney said.

Tragic precedent

Zoo superintendent Steve Lacy said the giraffe's death was "unforeseen and unprecedented," since there have never been related incidents at zoos with similar gate structures.

“The gate structure, installed in 2018, is a standard giraffe enclosure feature and is used in a number of accredited zoos around the country,” Lacy said.

Nonetheless, the zoo has notified the manufacturer of the potential hazard posed by similar gate installations at other zoos' giraffe exhibits.

It has likewise informed the United States Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of the incident, working with both on modifying the gate structure. The aforementioned association's president and chief executive officer Dan Ashe has since expressed confidence in the zoo's "exceptional care of animals" in spite of the incident.

“Our hearts go out to the Seneca Park community and all the dedicated professionals at Seneca Park Zoo with the news of the death of their giraffe Parker," Ashe said.

Seneca Park Zoo invites concerned people to honor Parker's memory by supporting giraffe conservation via this donation drive. It has since raised over P58,000 as of writing, above its P55,060-goal. The zoo reached the milestone within two days with two weeks left to donate.