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May 29, 2017

Young giraffe dies at Pennsylvania zoo after sustaining neck injury

A giraffe at a Pennsylvania zoo died after injuring its neck Sunday, days after it was placed in its new home.

Ernie, a 6-year-old Masai giraffe at the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, sustained the injury after becoming aggressive toward his father, Murphy, a 16-year-old giraffe, PennLive reported Sunday evening. 

Ernie and Murphy were placed in the Pennsylvania zoo last week after making the more than 1,000-mile trek from the Kansas City Zoo.

Murphy was brought to the zoo on Tuesday while Ernie was brought Friday.

Zookeepers noted that Ernie became aggressive toward Murphy after initially showing affection and responded by separating the two. After slowly reintroducing the giraffes, Ernie again showed aggression and hurt his neck, according to The Morning Call.

Ernie died around 1 p.m. on Sunday. The matter will be investigated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Ernie and Murphy were purchased by the Lehigh Valley Zoo on a $3.8 million investment. The zoo has plans to debut a new giraffe exhibit in mid-June.

It's unclear if the exhibit will still open on schedule.

"On behalf of all the staff at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, we are having the most difficult time finding the words to convey how heartbroken we are and we hope you will join us as we mourn the loss of Ernie," President and CEO of the Zoo Melissa Borland said in statement obtained by WFMZ Allentown