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Giraffe Euthanized After 'Significant Fall' At Houston Zoo

Feb 23, 2016 12:12 PM EST
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The Houston Zoo is mourning the loss of its eight-year-old Masai giraffe named Mtembei who was recently euthanized after suffering from a "significant fall.

Mtenbei, characterized by his dark coloration, is the father of the four youngest giraffe calves at the Houston Zoo in Texas. Veterinary staff tried effortlessly to help the 1.5 ton giraffe to his feet after he fell, but were unsuccessful. They also gave him pain medication, fluids, and supportive care to optimize his chances of healing. 

"When a giraffe is unable to stand, it is imperative to evaluate the animal and make every effort to get them back on his feet as quickly as possible," Sharon Joseph, vice president of animal operations at the zoo, said in a statement. "The entire Houston Zoo team is mourning the sudden loss of this magnificent animal."

The zoo made the decision to euthanize the giraffe when it was clear after several hours that he could not stand and would therefore not be able to recover from the injury. 

Being able to stand on their own four feet is imperative for the animals, as giraffes spend most of their lives standing up and craning their long necks to the tippy top of trees for food -- they even sleep and give birth standing up.

Last May, the Houston Zoo lost their eight-year-old female giraffe, Neema, to an aggressive intestinal disease that caused severe pain and infection. 

"Upon initial post-mortem review, we found that Neema had a complicated internal torsion, or 'twisted gut,'" Dr. Joseph Flanagan, chief veterinarian for the Houston Zoo. "This is, unfortunately, an extreme and incurable condition in giraffes."

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-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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