Image: © Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park Zoo Mourn Passing of Giraffe, Sota


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


March 19, 2023 10:45 pm


Reid Park Zoo, Arizona, The United States

The team at Reid Park Zoo are mourning the passing of their giraffe, Sota, aged three. They made the decision to humanely euthanize Sota following the discovery of damage to his legs.

“During a medical procedure to explore Sota’s swollen ankle joint, the veterinary surgeon was able to determine that the joint did not have any healthy cartilage remaining,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Chief Operating Officer of Reid Park Zoo. “The medical team could not provide any relief to the joint. Given this prognosis, our team made the incredibly difficult decision to humanely euthanize Sota.”

It is unclear how Sota initially injured his ankle. Keepers first noticed a subtle limp which gradually developed. After noticing this they began a monitoring program and provided pain medication.

With giraffes being so tall they rely on their legs being healthy. As a result of the damage it was determined that his leg could not support his normal weight. “While the decision to euthanize is never easy, we know it was the only option as Sota’s quality of life would decline quickly,” Tygielski said.

During his final weeks the team at Reid Park Zoo worked tirelessly to make him comfortable.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Sota, who is beloved by Zoo staff and visitors alike,” said Nancy Kluge, President & CEO of Reid Park Zoo. “Our hearts go out to the team that worked so closely with Sota every day. We also want to extend a sincere thank you for the medical team, both from the Zoo and the specialists who came to assist in the procedure, for doing everything they could for Sota. We appreciate your efforts.”

Keepers and vets gave the rest of the giraffe herd an opportunity to view the body of Sota as part of their mourning process. They report that the herd has been coping well with the loss.

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More on the Giraffe!

The long neck of the giraffe is an adaptation helping them to reach the leaves on which they feed. What else makes them unique, find out in our fact file.

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The long tongue of the giraffe is constantly out of its mouth as they grab leaves off the trees. They have adapted a blue tongue which prevents this tongue from becoming sunburnt while it is often out of their mouth.

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