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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hogle Zoo announced Wednesday morning the unexpected deaths of Pogo, a 17-year-old Rothschild giraffe, and her unborn calf.
The zoo said Pogo’s condition deteriorated rapidly and that she didn’t show symptoms of illness until Sunday. She died Monday. Pogo’s male calf was not due for another five months and was not yet big enough to attempt saving, the zoo said.
A news release from the zoo says initial results from a necropsy, an animal autopsy, showed abnormal intestines. The release says the death is not currently believed to be pregnancy-related.
In the release, Hogle’s giraffe keeper Melissa Farr said the zoo community is “just heartbroken.”
“We lost her in about 24 hours,” Farr said.
Zookeepers noted Pogo’s unusually reserved behavior on Sunday afternoon, the release says, and resolved to keep a close eye on her. But Farr said that upset stomachs often resolve themselves in about a day.
“Her behavior was just off,” Farr said. “She wasn’t eating like normal (and) she didn’t want to interact with her keepers.”
Veterinarians feared that Pogo “might be preparing for an early delivery or stillbirth,” the release says.
Pogo’s condition did not improve Monday morning and she died that afternoon while veterinarians prepared to administer medicine in her barn.
Hogle Zoo’s director of animal health, Dr. Nancy Carpenter, said the zoo is “going to look into everything to see what might have caused such an acute decline.”
Farr described Pogo as a “wonderful giraffe, a great herd member and quite curious.”
"She was very interested in things, even if she didn't want to take part,” Farr said. “She was a wonderful companion to the other giraffes and a perfect mother to her calves."
Pogo had two babies. She came to the Hogle Zoo in 2005, the release says; the zoo is now left with one male and two female giraffes in its care.
“Pogo will continue to be an ambassador to her marvelous yet threatened species,” the zoo says in the release. It collected fat tissue from Pogo “to be used in generating new stem cells for fellow giraffes in need.”
Pogo is the second giraffe to die at Hogle in the past year. In July, 15-year-old female Kipenzi was humanely euthanized after suffering severe gastrointestinal problems.