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Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo giraffe dies of broken neck: Necropsy

The Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo’s 12-year-old Masai giraffe, Emara, died of a broken neck, according to the necropsy done after her death.

Ten days ago, the Calgary Zoo reported that Emara had died.

According to the zoo, the Animal Care, Health and Welfare staff found Emara unresponsive against the fence in the African Savannah Yard in the early morning on May 19. The necropsy showed that the 12-year-old female died quickly due to a broken neck.

“Our entire zoo family is still mourning this sudden and tragic loss,” said Colleen Baird, Interim Associate Director, Animal Care & Welfare at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.

“From the staff and volunteers who loved and cared for her to the visitors she inspired each visit, Emara will be missed by all.” 

The zoo said that the incident happened very early in the morning before staff were on site. Apparently, Emara caught one of her horns on a cable surrounding the savannah area and they believe this led to the fall against the fence.

The Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo believes this is an isolated incident.

Review of enclosure coming: Zoo

The zoo is evaluating whether changes need to be made to the area to ensure animal safety. The area is also the habitat for zebras, ostriches and African grey crowned cranes.

“At 12 years old, Emara was in the prime of her life and had been in excellent health prior to this, so her unexpected departure is being felt deeply by all of us,” said Dr. Doug Whiteside, Interim Associate Director, Animal Health & Welfare at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.

“The health and well-being of all the animals in our care is our top priority. Major life changes such as this not only affect our people but can affect our animal residents as well. We are closely monitoring the zoo’s remaining giraffes, ‘Nabo’ and ‘Moshi’, and so far they are doing well.” 

Emara came to the zoo in 2016 from the San Diego Zoo. The zoo said she was a cautious but curious animal with a gentle nature.

Grief counselors are being made available to zoo staff.