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  • Alli Calhoun, 4, feeds Zahra lettuce in August at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. The 8-year-old reticulated giraffe died July 5 after an illness. (Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette)

Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:00 am

Zahra, 8, zoo giraffe 'loved by all,' dies

RON SHAWGO | The Journal Gazette

Zahra, one of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo's prized giraffes, has died.

The 8-year-old reticulated giraffe had been ill and under veterinary care since June 21, the zoo said on its Facebook page Wednesday. Zahra died July 5.

“Zahra first seemed to have a mild lameness in mid-June and later showed decreased appetite,” Dr. Kami Fox, staff veterinarian, said in the posting. “Because of the excellent animal training from our Animal Care Team, we were able to obtain blood samples during her illness for diagnostics and to monitor her response to treatment. Despite the weeks of supportive care and diet supplementation, she developed digestive issues, causing a life-threatening condition and her ultimate death.”

Zahra, which means “flower” in Swahili, was the zoo's 15th giraffe. She was born on Oct. 17, 2009, at the zoo to Jelani and Zuri.

Zahra was mother to Kiango, born in 2015. In August, she gave birth to Kita. 

“She was an important member of our herd, and her offspring marked three generations of giraffes here at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo,” the Facebook statement says. “Zahra was loved by all, and her loss is felt deeply. We share this heartbreak with our animal care professionals, who cared for her every single day of her life. We thank them for their outstanding work, not only with Zahra, but with all the animals here at the Zoo.”

Zahra's death leaves the zoo with eight giraffes.