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June 01, 2017

Giraffe dies at N.J. zoo days after giraffe at Pa. zoo dies of neck injuries

An 18-foot-tall, 11-year-old Masai giraffe held in a New Jersey zoo died Wednesday during a medical procedure, the zoo announced in a news release.

The "beloved" animal, named Hodari, died around 3 p.m. at the Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said in the release.


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About three weeks ago, zookeepers noticed that Hodari was behaving strangely and found that there was "something wrong" with the animal's teeth. Hodari was first put under anesthesia so his mouth could be further examined and awoke without a problem.

Hodari was put under anesthesia once again Wednesday for a procedure when he experienced complications.

“We observed that Hodari was having difficulty eating and decided performing the procedure would prevent further complications from occurring in the future,” Dr. Jon Bergmann, the zoo's vet, said in the release. “We believed this would give Hodari a better quality of life, improve his overall health and allow him to continue to thrive at Turtle Back Zoo. We knew there were risks when putting an animal of Hodari’s size under anesthesia, but we also knew repairing his teeth would be more beneficial for him."

The exact cause of death won't be known until the results of a necropsy are released in about a month.

The zoo called Hodari "a beautiful animal" in a Facebook post.

Hodari was one of four animals in the Turtle Back Zoo's Giraffe House. He was brought to the New Jersey zoo from South Carolina in December 2015. The exhibit cost about $7 million to develop, according to the release.

The announcement comes not even a week after the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, announced that Ernie, a 6-year-old Masai giraffe, died after injuring his neck.

The average lifespan of a Masai giraffe in the wild is about 25 years, according to the World Animal Foundation.