Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is sad to announce the death of two week old giraffe Kito.
The youngster developed breathing problems and was unable to stand, and was put to sleep by the zoo’s in-house veterinary team at around 6pm on Monday, January 24.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park director of operations and curator of mammals Neil Bemment said: “We had been giving him regular feeds since he was a week old. After his Monday afternoon feed he was in a semi-collapsed state and unable to hold his head up unassisted. He was also having difficulty breathing.
“Keepers and veterinary staff did everything they could for him but in the end we had to take the decision. It was hard for us but it was right for him. You cannot let an animal suffer.
“I suspect that we may find there was some aspiration of fluid into the lungs. This is unlikely to be a the sole cause of death. We had been dealing with various concerns about his health for a number of days. These included a lack of normal weight gain and problems with his rear leg tendons not extending properly.”
Senior head mammal keeper Julian Chapman: “From the start he wasn’t getting enough milk he needed from Sangha, which is why we had to step in. Sangha hadn’t abandoned him but it seems very likely that either she did not have enough milk, or was simply not allowing him to feed properly.”
Paignton Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Sangha was a first time mother – some animals are natural mothers, others struggle. We really hope she will do better next time. It is hard when you lose an animal, but you don’t go into wildlife conservation for an easy life. Zoos have ups and downs – this is certainly a down.”
A post-mortem examination will be carried out.
Kito was born at around 7.30am on Monday, January 10 to mother Sangha and father Yoda. He is her first youngster, while Yoda fathered a calf by the Zoo’s other female last year.
Rothschild’s giraffes are classified as Endangered – the European Endangered species Programme for Rothschild’s giraffes is managed by Chester Zoo.