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Published: Sunday, 7/29/2001

Zoo's giraffe, George, dies after being gored by a male kudu

George the Toledo Zoo giraffe, who with his mate Gracie sired three offspring, died between 4 and 5 p.m. yesterday, about three weeks after he was gored by a male kudu.

A necropsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. But zoo workers believe the death was caused by complications of an infection of the wound.

The attack apparently was unprovoked.

The 14-year-old George and the kudu - a type of antelope - have been together in an exhibit for hoofed animals for several years, “and there has not been a problem until this point,” Dr. Wynona Shellabarger, zoo veterinarian, said.

As a result of the death, Gracie and a male offspring born Sept. 11 are the only giraffes on exhibit.

George was out on exhibit when “it appears the adult male kudu gored him,” Dr. Shellabarger said. “A keeper was right there, and we immediately looked at the wound, flushed the wound with disinfectant. We were observing him, and the wound appeared to heal within a week or two. But then he appeared to go off his feed and was acting abnormal.”

“We had been treating him intensively for about a week,” Dr. Shellabarger said. “And he was responding marginally.”

George arrived at the zoo in 1988, four years after the zoo's previous giraffe, Dribbles, 19, collapsed and died as zoo employees tired to put him in a neck-high crate for shipment to an animal park near Port Clinton.

When Gracie gave birth in 1995, it was the first giraffe born at the zoo since 1978. Deliveries in 1998 and 2000 followed.

The male born in 1998 was loaned to the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, Evansville, Ind., in May, 1999, but it died in March, 2000.

Giraffes have an average life span of 20 to 23 years, according to the Toledo Zoo.



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