Omaha, Nebraska – Days ago, a zoo in Omaha lost the oldest giraffe in its herd. The 22-year-old giraffe, named Dottie, had to be euthanized after she fell down and was unable to get back up.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium announced Dottie’s passing in a social media post on June 1, explaining what happened:
Dottie fell yesterday morning and was found lying down on her side in the giraffe barn by the keeper staff, unable to rise. Vet staff responded immediately.
According to the news release, Dottie was unable to stand on her own due to chronic medical issues and the veterinary staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize her. The zoo explained Dottie’s medical condition, writing:
Dottie had been under close monitoring and medical care for osteoarthritis resulting in overgrown hooves since 2019.
Osteoarthritis commonly develops in elderly animals, as a degenerative change as they age. In 2021 and early 2022, the Zoo collaborated with hoof trimming specialists, who were able to help Zoo staff trim Dottie’s hooves, allowing her to walk comfortably for as long as possible.
Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, one of the Zoo’s associate veterinarians, shared her thoughts about the matriarch of the giraffe herd:
“Dottie is a testament to the excellent quality care provided by both her animal care staff and the veterinary team at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, from animal care staff training with her to allow oral medications to veterinary care staff safely anesthetizing her for hoof trims with visiting expert consultants. Dottie was able to share another three years of her life with her family group, including recently becoming an ‘auntie’ to new giraffe calf Arthur. Dottie was well-loved by all that had the chance to know her.”
Dan Cassidy, the Zoo’s vice president of animal management, shared his thoughts about the giraffe who spent her entire life at the zoo:
“She will be greatly missed by our Zoo family and the Omaha community. Dottie lives on through her offspring, positively impacting the sustainability of her species in zoos.”
Dottie was born on Sept. 13, 1999; she was the mother to three calves. Dottie’s daughter, LoLo, lives in the African Grasslands habitat at the Zoo. Her daughter Zoe was moved to the Tulsa Zoo, and son, Malcom, was moved to Zoo Miami as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.