A heartbreaking event took place at Baltimore’s Maryland Zoo as veterinarians had to euthanize the month-old giraffe, Julius, following a prolonged illness. The giraffe, born at the zoo died Saturday morning following intense efforts by the staff to bring it back to good health.
On Friday, the zoo reported that Julius’ condition had deteriorated from the previous evening. They stated that he had a slim chance for survival. the calf, who was already 6-feet tall, was on a life-supporting solution via IV.
President of the Maryland Zoo, Don Hutchinson, released a statement saying that the vet staff and animal care team dropped everything to work with Julius, attempting everything they could to nurse the giraffe back to health. After a Herculean effort, exploring every possibility, he was unable to survive.
It appears that Julius was doomed from the start. In the first 48 hours after birth, it is key for baby giraffes to nurse, getting needed antibodies from their mothers’ milk. However, something was wrong with Kesi, his mother. She needed medicine to boost milk production, but Julius was unable to nurse to the level needed. Despite this, Kesi did everything a mother could to care for her baby.
A colostrum formula supplement was given to Julius in the first day following his birth, and the zoo staff tried to teach him how to feed from a bottle. Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Colorado Springs Cheyenne Mountain Zoo provided him with two giraffe plasma transfusions loaded with nutrients. Antibiotics, IV’s of fluids, and other special care were also given to the young giraffe.
Despite 24-hour care and all the treatment efforts, associate veterinarian, Samantha Sander, of the Maryland Zoo, said that the calf remained in a critical condition, which, overnight, too a downward turn overnight. The veterinary staff then made the tough choice to euthanize him. It was not the outcome they wanted, according to the Denver Post, but they had tried everything to nurse him back to health, and then to make him comfortable and keep him out of distress.
According to officials, a necropsy will be performed on the calf. They hope to learn why Julius was put at a health deficit, and learn from it so that it will hopefully never happen again.
On Saturday night, Maryland Zoo staff will move Julius’ mother out of the giraffe house and reunite her with the zoo’s other giraffes outside. Updates about Julius the baby giraffe have been posted on the zoo’s blog, and they are offering a spot there for people to post comments about the baby giraffe.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photos Courtesy Maryland Zoo in Baltimore