Cold Weather May Be to Blame for Zoo Death

Tulsa, OK – TULSA, OK, January 10, 2010 The Tulsa Zoo is saddened to announce the death of the 9-year-old female giraffe, Amira.
The giraffe passed away early Sunday morning after Tulsa Zoo staff worked tirelessly around the clock to save her.
Zoo staff has worked to fortify animal exhibits around the zoo and have also implemented cold-weather procedures to protect the animals since the cold snap began.
The zoo has guidelines in place that determine when animals need to be brought in out of the elements. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the giraffe are kept in their heated barn and not put out on exhibit. With the intense cold weather Oklahoma is experiencing Amira and the zoo's male giraffe, Samburu, have been in their barn for some time. Attention has been given to reduce cold drafts around the doors by sealing with plywood and hay bales in the 24-foot-barn.
Early Saturday morning, zookeepers noted Amira, the giraffe, was acting lethargic and alerted staff veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues. Although the giraffe barn is heated, additional portable heaters were brought in and bedding added. Zookeepers and veterinarian staff worked throughout the night treating Amira for suspected hypothermia, but despite extraordinary efforts, she died early Sunday morning.
"We found Amira's core body temperature was low and began implementing treatment to raise it," says Backues. Giraffes are susceptible to cold weather as they are physiologically built to dispel heat quickly.
A necropsy was performed, and found her to be in "good body condition", but tissue samples have been sent for further testing and it is hoped results will return within the week.
"This loss has truly been devastating," says Terrie Correll, Director of the Tulsa Zoo, "no one is more heartbroken by this than zoo staff, who worked so valiantly to save Amira's life."
The Tulsa Zoo has one giraffe remaining, the 17-year-old bull, Samburu. Zoo staff will remain in the giraffe barn to monitor temperatures around the clock until weather conditions improve.
Amira was brought to the Tulsa Zoo in October from the Santa Barbara Zoo.