Miami zoo euthanizes giraffe that was unable to walk

Miami, US, Jan 4 (efe-epa).- Pongo, a male giraffe that was among the main attractions at Zoo Miami, was euthanized on Monday, the zoo announced.

“It is with great sadness that Zoo Miami officials had to make the difficult decision this morning to euthanize Pongo, a nearly 12 year old male giraffe,” the zoo in the southern Florida city said in a statement.

According to the zoo, the giraffe was suffering from increasing pain in his left rear hoof due to a previously sustained small fracture.

It led the special multidisciplinary team of more than 24 people, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, zookeepers, and farriers, to immobilize the animal weighing almost 2,000 pounds (900 kg) in September.

The team x-rayed Pongo’s feet, treated him with laser therapy, and fitted him with custom shoes to heal the fracture and reduce the pain.

While the custom shoes resulted in Pongo walking normally, several weeks after the procedure, they came off, following which the giraffe injured his hoof again, the zoo explained.

“The Animal Health team performed a series of treatments to provide Pongo with maximum comfort in the hopes that he would heal without the need to immobilize him again,” the zoo said.

After the treatments proved ineffective, the zoo decided to immobilize him again to perform another set of x-rays and decide on the future course of action.

“Sadly, the X-rays revealed that within the last two weeks he had further fractured his foot in a way that prevented the Animal Health team from being able to treat it successfully and the painful decision was made to euthanize him while he was still under anesthesia,” the zoo added.

Adult giraffes are among the toughest difficult animals to anesthetize because of their large size and height, and “death as a result of not being able to recover from anesthesia is a serious risk,” the zoo had said when immobilizing him for the first time in September.

Pongo was born at the Denver Zoo in 2009 and arrived in Miami in November of the same year.

After he arrived at the zoo, he grew into the tallest giraffe at the zoo.

Pongo had “become a favorite of countless guests who had the pleasure of feeding him at our Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station. He will be terribly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and the privilege of working with him,” the zoo said. EFE-EPA


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