Zoo says cold climate not a factor in Jafari’s death

Preliminary results from the necropsy show that Jafari had plenty of fat stores.

Jafari was found dead in his barn on Sunday morning at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. He was 12-years-old. This is the third giraffe to die at the zoo in one year.


The Greater Vancouver Zoo says preliminary results from a necropsy on Jafari the giraffe indicate that living in a cold climate didn’t contribute to his death.

The Zoo put out a press release on Thursday saying it is performing an extensive investigation into the recent death of its 12-year-old Jafari. The giraffe is the third to die at the zoo in one year.

The other two giraffes also died in the month of November, 2011.

The SPCA is also doing its own investigation into the giraffe’s death. This is the second time the SPCA has investigated the zoo. The first time resulted in the animal protection society laying charges of animal cruelty when it was found that Hazina, the hippo, was being kept inside on a concrete floor with no access to the outdoors. The charges were dropped when the zoo built a heated enclosure and outdoor pool and area.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is calling on the zoo to stop acquiring giraffes and to relocate its remaining giraffe Pompy to a facility in a warmer climate. The five-year-old giraffe just arrived at the zoo in the summer to be a companion for Jafari. Giraffes are herd animals.

It was the VHS who claimed that Jafari likely died from losing fat stores because of living in a cold climate. That accusation prompted the zoo to fire back with the pathologist’s preliminary findings.

According to the zoo, Dr. Chelsea Himsworthan, an independent veterinary anatomic pathologist, said preliminary results have shown that “Jafari was in excellent body condition with ample body fat stores. This finding has allowed us to rule out the so-called ‘peracute mortality syndrome’ of giraffes as a cause of death. Testing is ongoing on the samples that were received from the post-mortem.”

Jafari came to the zoo at six months old. During the 12 years that Jafari has lived in Aldergrove, he has been very healthy, said Dr. Bruce Burton, the zoo’s veterinarian. Last November, Eleah was found collapsed in her heated barn and just like Jafari, was considered healthy prior to her death. But she was 23.

Her death had come only a week after her son Amryn, three-years-old, died unexpectedly. Amryn was Eleah and Jafari’s offspring.

The necropsies done of both giraffes were inconclusive as to what killed them.

“It’s just not good enough for the zoo staff to throw up their hands and claim they don’t know what happened.  It’s their responsibility to keep these animals in good health,” said VHS’s Peter Fricker. “At the very least, they should stop keeping and breeding exotics and concentrate on rescuing indigenous species in need.”

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