Accident claims Kipenzi, whose live birth in April mesmerized the world
The Dallas Zoo is devastated to announce the death this evening of Kipenzi, the giraffe calf whose birth on Animal Planet Live captured the hearts of people worldwide.
“This is a huge loss for our giraffe herd, our staff and our guests,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. “To be honest, it hurts terribly. We’re crushed, and everyone here is mourning. Please keep our staff in your thoughts.”
Keepers were routinely shifting the giraffe herd into their night barn just after 5:30 p.m. when the gangly calf began to scamper about the feeding yard, as she has done since her public debut on May 1. She made a sharp turn and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. Preliminary results indicate three broken vertebrae in her neck, and that she died immediately.
“Running is a typical behavior for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones like Kipenzi,” said Harrison Edell, the zoo’s senior director of living collections. “We’ve been very cautious with where we’ve allowed Kipenzi to roam, as we were with her siblings Kopano and Jamie when they were small. It’s heartbreaking that this happened where it did despite our precautions.”
Her mother, Katie, visited Kipenzi before veterinarians and keepers removed her.
On May 1, Kipenzi made her first official public debut in the zoo’s giraffe feed yard with Katie and “Uncle” Auggie. Since then, Kipenzi had explored the habitat regularly. She was the third giraffe calf raised in the Giants of the Savanna habitat since its opening in 2010.
Kipenzi’s birth caught the attention of animal-lovers worldwide after the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet launched the joint project GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE this spring on the Animal Planet L!VE streaming video site. Millions of people fell in love with Kipenzi after she made her debut April 10 in front of adoring fans on Animal Planet and Animal Planet L!VE. The “Giraffe Birth Live” TV special on Animal Planet drew 1.4 million viewers on April 11, and the live birth saw more than 2 million streams on APL.tv.
Given the groundswell of love for Kipenzi since her birth, the Dallas Zoo encourages guests to post photos of Kipenzi or leave messages of support for staff on its Facebook and Instagram pages. For those interested in donating in Kipenzi’s memory, the Dallas Zoo recommends The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, our partner at the forefront of protecting giraffes in Africa. Click here to make a donation.