Zoo Atlanta’s oldest giraffe dies after arthritis battle


Abu (cropped photo: Zoo Atlanta)

ATLANTA (WSAV) – The oldest member of Zoo Atlanta’s giraffe herd, Abu, died Friday. He was 16.

“This is a very sad day for Zoo Atlanta. Abu was very special to so many, both within the Zoo team and among our Members and guests,” Senior Director of Animal Health Dr. Sam Rivera stated.

Zoo Atlanta had been home to Abu since 2007. Three years later, he became father to the first giraffe calf ever born at the zoo and fathered a second calf in 2011.

According to Zoo Atlanta, Abu’s health took a sharp decline in recent days. He had been battling arthritis for some time and received significant treatments dating back to 2020.

Earlier this year, Abu underwent a procedure where he was fitted with special therapeutic shoes aimed at slowing down the progression of his arthritis. Meant to be worn only for a short period, the shoes were removed in August.

Zoo Atlanta said Abu received stem cell therapy — which they say has been a groundbreaking tool in treating a variety of species. His care team also worked with him on therapy, footwork and other treatments.

Because of his poor prognosis and concern over his quality of life, Zoo Atlanta’s care teams euthanized Abu Friday. It was an extremely difficult decision, officials said.

“Our Animal Care and Veterinary Teams have worked tirelessly in their efforts to care for Abu, always with his well-being foremost in our minds, and pursued every option available to us in terms of his treatment,” Rivera’s statement continued. “We have all appreciated the amazing support of our Zoo Atlanta community, Members and friends for our efforts and for Abu.”

Officials said a necropsy — equivalent to an autopsy for humans — will be performed and pathology results are expected in several weeks.

A giraffe’s average life expectancy is 25, wildlife organizations report.

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