Sad news coming out of The Maryland Zoo says a young giraffe that has been struggling since birth has died as a result of health struggles that could not be treated.
Marlyand Zoo CEO Don Hutchinson said that veterinary staff and an animal care team put their lives on hold and explored every avenue to try to nurse Julius back to health.
Julius was born to a first-time mother, Kesi, on June 15th, but he was not able to learn to nurse effectively and had insufficient antibodies to protect him from disease.
To boost his immune system, he was given two transfusions of giraffe plasma, one from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and another from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.
Dr. Samantha Sander, an associate veterinarian at the zoo, says his condition took a sharp turn downward overnight, prompting a decision to euthanize the calf.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore wrote the following on their Facebook page:
“It’s hard to even write the words. Julius is gone. After weeks of effort, intensive medical treatments and round-the-clock hands on care, today the team made a decision they never wanted to have to make.”
“Since Julius’ birth and the beginning of his battle, we knew his chances of survival were limited, but that never stopped the team from stepping up to provide him every care and comfort, and exhausting all treatment options.”
“If you’ve been following his journey, you know the effort has been intense, guided by collaboration between our giraffe experts and animal professionals from all over the country.”
“In the end, we are saddened that this extraordinary effort wasn't enough to save him and the entire Maryland Zoo family is feeling this loss very deeply, as we know you are feeling it, too.”
“When working with animals it's often the underlying issues that aren't easily identifiable or solved that prove most challenging, even with the best science and skill. We hope to learn more about what health issues, if any, might have been complicating Julius' critical condition.”
“In his short life, he has already helped the Zoo and other giraffe care facilities gain vast knowledge that will aid future calves who may face similar issues in our collective efforts to save and safeguard this species.”
“Julius impacted a large following of fans who wanted, like us, to see him thrive. The Zoo has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, concern and prayers for him. We simply can’t explain the positive impact your support has had on the team working day and night with him.”
“The Zoo team and #TeamJulius is not just made of animal experts but also animal lovers, including you. This type of decision is one of the hardest parts of a Zoo team member’s job and a blanket of grief lays over the entire Zoo family as you read this.”
“The support of #TeamJulius on this journey has been a true inspiration and we are comforted knowing Julius’ memory will live on with you.”
“We’ve set up an online memory wall for Julius so that giraffe lovers all over the world who fell in love with our little calf and are as overwhelmed as we are right now can share messages of support for Julius, the herd, the team and each other: https://padlet.com/maryland_zoo/miarg2wbxfk”
“You can also read more about today’s difficult decision here: www.marylandzoo.org/julius”
“This won’t be the last #TeamJulius message, but we, like you, will be taking some time to process the last few weeks and will move forward on behalf of the rest of the giraffe herd who continue to act as ambassadors for such a valuable and vulnerable species.”