BALTIMORE (WFLA) — A baby giraffe who suffered from health problems and never learned to nurse effectively died one month after he was born at The Maryland Zoo, the zoo announced Saturday.
The zoo said the calf, named Julius, was euthanized Saturday morning after his condition took a turn for the worse Friday, and zookeepers concluded he would not be able to survive.
“It’s hard to put our emotions into words right now,” Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the zoo, said in a statement. “Our veterinary staff and our animal care team put their lives on hold to try and nurse Julius back to health, and every avenue was explored. Sadly, he was unable to survive in spite of their Herculean efforts.”
In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Dr. Samantha Sander, an associate veterinarian at the zoo said giraffes typically begin to nurse within a day in order to get the necessary antibodies that build up their immune systems. But Julius never learned to nurse, despite the zoo’s efforts–the zoo even tried to teach him to drink from a bottle. He was given a special colostrum formula, a nutritional supplement and a plasma transfusion to boost his immune system, but those measures were unsuccessful.
“Despite intensive medical interventions, tube feeding and around the clock care, Julius remained a critical patient,” Dr. Sander said.
“His condition took a sharp turn downward overnight, and we had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him. This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, but we rest assured that we did everything we possibly could medically to prevent him from any distress.”
“A necropsy will be done to try and determine what put Julius at this health deficit from the beginning,” she added. “Sometimes there are underlying issues that are not able to be identified or solved by even the best science and skill. Julius’ short life will help gain vast knowledge not only for us, but for other facilities as we all continue to face similar issues in our efforts to save and safeguard the species.”
Hutchinson thanked “the thousands of people from around the world who have sent positive thoughts and prayers to Julius and the staff here at the Zoo.”