The Tulsa Zoo announced Sunday the death of its 21-year-old male giraffe. Below is the text of a news release issued by the Zoo staff on the death of Samburu:
We are sad to share that Samburu, our beloved giraffe, passed away yesterday. Known by most as Sam, his health has been slowly declining due to degenerative osteoarthritis over the last several months, but he has been under the close supervision of animal care and veterinary staff.
Osteoarthritis is not uncommon for large-bodied animals, but Sam recently experienced a sudden major decline in his ability to move and stand comfortably, particularly on his front right foot. Staff acted quickly to obtain x-rays and the results indicated that Sam had fractured his foot and would unlikely return to a comfortable, non-painful state.
The source of this fracture is unknown but may have been caused by something as simple as a misstep during his normal routines. Animal care and veterinary staff continuously worked to monitor Sam's condition and quality of life and continued medication was offered to ease his pain. Giraffe foot problems, as with horses, are difficult to treat and become serious very quickly due to the animal's size. Sam weighed 2,500 lbs and treatments were limited due to the size and natural behaviors of such animals.
Proper healing would likely not occur because of the constant pressure Sam would instinctively place on the injury. Once animal care and veterinary staff determined that Sam's quality of life had diminished, they made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Sam yesterday. At 21 years of age, Sam lived much longer than the average male giraffe in human care. We will greatly miss Sam, who has been an ambassador of the Tulsa Zoo since his birth here in 1992.