xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Baby giraffe Julius has died, Maryland Zoo officials say

Baby giraffe Julius has died, Maryland Zoo officials say

A baby giraffe that had suffered from health problems since being born last month at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has died, the zoo announced Saturday.

The calf, named Julius, took a turn for the worse Friday. He was euthanized Saturday morning after zoo caretakers concluded he was no longer improving and that there was little else the staff could do to help him.

Advertisement

"It's hard to put our emotions into words right now," Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the zoo, said in a statement. "Our veterinary staff and our animal care team put their lives on hold to try and nurse Julius back to health, and every avenue was explored. Sadly, he was unable to survive in spite of their Herculean efforts."

The zoo's veterinary staff realized soon after Julius' birth June 15 that he was not well.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Giraffes typically begin to nurse within a day of being born, which is how they obtain essential antibodies to build up their immune systems, Dr. Samantha Sander, an associate veterinarian at the zoo, said in an interview Saturday.

Julius never learned to nurse. The zoo fed him special formula, tried to teach him to drink from a bottle, and even gave Julius a plasma transfusion from a giraffe at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio in an effort to boost his immune system.

He also received a nutritional supplement, donated by Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, through an IV.

Julius' condition changed frequently, at times showing signs of improvement.

Advertisement

But on Friday, the baby giraffe's condition turned from critical to dire.

"His chances of success were so faint that we felt it was only humane to euthanize and to not have him suffer in his final days," Sander said.

The zoo will conduct a necropsy to try to identify underlying problems that might have contributed to Julius' poor health.

Zoo staff have received an outpouring of support on social media, where fans had been following the zoo's updates on Julius' progress.

Within hours of announcing Julius' death, thousands of people had commented on the zoo's Facebook page. Many more left condolences on Twitter, under the hashtag #teamjulius.

In a statement, Hutchinson said the zoo had heard from "thousands of people from around the world."

"The outpouring of support has indeed bolstered everyone at the zoo," he said, "and most especially the people who have been working directly with Julius and the rest of the giraffe herd through this very trying time."

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

The Maryland Zoo has partnered with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio, to provide additional support to the male giraffe calf born at The Maryland Zoo on Thursday, June 15. (Courtesy video)
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement