Officials with the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL reported the death of T-Bone, a one year old Masai giraffe.
Last week, animal care staff noticed T-Bone was lethargic, uninterested in food and producing diarrhea. Veterinary staff analyzed his blood and feces, discovering evidence of higher than-normal quantities of gastrointestinal worms and anemia. He was immediately given antiparasitic medication and his condition appeared to improve.
A necropsy confirmed the extremity of the infection resulted in severe blood loss.
Gastrointestinal worms are commonly found in giraffe both in human care and the wild as part of their “gut fauna,” albeit in smaller quantities. It is not immediately clear why they were so abundant in T-Bone.
The same parasites remain present in the Zoo’s other giraffe at normal levels. Although the animals are not exhibiting symptoms, keepers are keeping a close eye on their health. The Zoo is examining its parasite mitigation protocol to reduce the likelihood of a similar occurrence in the future.
“This is a significant loss for our Zoo and the community at large,” said Keith Winsten, the Zoo’s executive director. “T-Bone was an intelligent, curious giraffe who inspired hundreds of thousands of guests during his time with us.”