Archive for Friday, August 13, 2010

Pregnant giraffe dies at the Topeka Zoo

A giraffe at the Topeka zoo died while pregnant Friday. Zoo keepers found the animal in the morning. Hope, a newly born giraffe, continues to struggle through leg surgery.

August 13, 2010


— A pregnant female giraffe that had been under medical duress the past few days and her unborn calf have died at the Topeka Zoo, officials said Friday.

Brendan Wiley, zoo director, said in a phone interview that he received an "emotional" call about 6 a.m. Friday from a zoo staffer informing him B.G., the adult giraffe, had died overnight.

The unborn calf also died.

B.G. had been under medical care for the past week after showing signs of stress. Zoo officials noticed about two weeks ago that B.G. was in the early stages of giving birth to a calf fathered by the zoo's male giraffe, Jesse.

Concerns were heightened this week when B.G.'s ears and neck started to droop.

"We had been closely monitoring her the past couple of weeks," Wiley said. "Earlier this week, we saw things turning for the worse."

Late Tuesday night, he said, zoo veterinarians had to make a choice: whether to focus on the health of the unborn calf or the health of B.G.

At that point, Wiley said, the decision was made to focus on B.G., under the assumption that if she was to die, there was no guarantee of the healthy delivery of the calf.

Performing a Cesarean-section wasn't an option, based on B.G.'s condition, the largeness of the calf and the nature of the surgery, he said.

B.G. was given medications to help reduce fluid on her lungs and to increase urine output, Wiley said.

Efforts were made to induce labor on Tuesday and Wednesday. Zoo officials said the longer B.G. went without giving birth, the more concern there was for her health.

By Thursday, B.G. showed enough improvement to be placed in a giraffe restraint. A thorough medical examination was performed on Thursday and blood tests were taken.

B.G. had been on a 24-hour watch for several days before zoo officials decided to pull back on Thursday night.

Wiley said zoo veterinarians and staff members "tried to do what we could to make her comfortable" and opted to give B.G. some solitude late Thursday night, in hopes that would enhance her chances to give birth.

B.G. was last seen alive at 9 p.m. Thursday and was alone at the time of her death, Wiley said. She was found Friday morning by zoo staff members. There was no indication she had gone into labor.

Wiley said a necropsy would be conducted Friday morning on B.G., age 25. Tissue samples would be sent to different research facilities, Wiley said.

Wiley said he wouldn't be surprised to find there were several factors including B.G.'s age, her pregnancy and the extreme heat that Topeka experienced this week, with four days in a row of 100-degree temperatures.

"I have a feeling this is one of those things where there is a combination of factors," Wiley said. "We may learn differently, but that's what it seems at this point."


mom44 3 years, 8 months ago

   OK, I was appalled  when I read the news this morning. Both Dolly an B. G. had been living at the Topeka Zoo for quite some time, and in mostly good health.

I can only imagine the motivation of the former zoo director was absolute GREED, to breed these elderly giraffes.

And Dolly, born with a hoof deformity, is bred, gives birth to a calf with the same condition, calf has to be euthanized , and THEN is bred AGAIN? !!!!! Greedy idiot zoo director. And sorry, but how could ANY vet tolerate that situation? Straight out animal cruelty. It is a well known fact that baby zoo animals attract visitors. Can be huge revenue boosters.

As for the comments on "mating" them to another giraffe, the procedure would have been done by artificial insemination ( frozen semen shipped in from another zoo) , there is no "bull" giraffe at the zoo. It definitely sounds like it was a calculated "cost effective" measure, taken, with little regard for the animals, with the goal being to sell more tickets to the zoo.

If the former zoo director were still in place, I would NEVER go there again. Idiot, blankety blank.

SO sad.


cowboy 3 years, 8 months ago

We lost a perfectly healthy horse this past week due to colic , no history of it in 16 years , some animals actually stop drinking during heat spells for a day or two , the complication of an animals stomach compared to ours are drastic.

This Giraffe was equivalent to a grandmother giving birth , living outdoors in the 116 degree heat. Not a good idea.

Too bad for the Giraffe and I'm sure the staff feel horrible.

The old saying with stock farmers is " If you're going to keep livestock , you are going have deadstock also.


lizziemarie 3 years, 8 months ago

Ignoramus? Wow Cheeseburger, I suppose you have given birth? There are definitely some pregnancies that are high risk as it appears this giraffe's was. In most cases women and animals who are allowed to birth in their own time in a peaceful environment without medical interventions have absolutely amazing births with very few complications. It is usually when ignorant medical professionals try to control and manipulate the process that things go wrong. Pregnancy is not an illness.


KSManimal 3 years, 8 months ago

Newsflash: living things die. It's what they do.

Here we have an animal at the top end of it's life expectancy, pregnant, in extremely hot weather, and it died.

Biology happens. Stop trying to blame someone for a natural phenomenon and get over yourselves.


none2 3 years, 8 months ago

I think this is really sad. As to animals in the zoo and whether they should be wild, I think their life can be better in a zoo given the destruction of habitat. Plus for many animals (maybe not giraffes), they are hunted for some bizarre body part. I do wish the animals had more space. The elephants do seem to be lacking in space. I don't know about the hippos, but it is sad that they lost one. I do hope those kinds of issues get addressed.


Kelly Johnson 3 years, 8 months ago

It says they noticed she was in the "early stages of giving birth" two weeks ago. I don't know anything about giraffes but how long does it normally take for a labor/delivery process for a giraffe? It seems like an exceptionally long time to be in labor. Would 25 be considered extremely advanced maternal age for a giraffe, considering their average life expectancy is 28 yrs (in captivity) according to wikipedia?

I'm showing my inappropriate sense of humor by having to say that I find it ironic that there will be a NEC(k)ropsy done on a giraffe. (Yes, I know that's an autopsy on an animal of any kind, not just giraffes.)

I am sad over the passing of both the mother and the baby giraffe. My kids really love to see the giraffes at the Topeka Zoo. I had heard it mentioned that the zoo was having some problems but it looks like a lot of improvements have been made or are in the process of being made to the facility itself over the last year - hopefully that means there are unseen changes as well. Or, if not, this death (if it were avoidable) will prompt further action to ensure compliance and humane conditions for the animals.


Jimbecile 3 years, 8 months ago

The WBC is happy this happened to another godless, unwed Giraffe. Funeral Protest to follow.


Hope_And_Change 3 years, 8 months ago

I hope I can get the hide to make a change of pants. That would look groovey.


BigPrune 3 years, 8 months ago

When I was very young theTopeka Zoo was a dump. Just a couple of years ago I went there and they had made drastic changes for the better. Now, I prefer it to the Kansas City Zoo. I think it's a great zoo. Everyone who is middle aged who hasn't been to the Topeka Zoo since their youth should go back. It's very nice. btw -The hippos can go outside and swim too.


Tom Shewmon 3 years, 8 months ago

Lawrence not only is overrun with veterinary experts, it is filled to the rim with:

Military experts Economic experts Political experts Climate experts Judicial experts Civil rights experts

....and the list of experts in Lawrence goes on and on and on and.......


openyourmind 3 years, 8 months ago

at 1:00 am they had an article in the cjonline that said that they were inducing labor and it would be an hour before she gave birth to her calf. now, they have a different timeline and the article has been removed from cjonline. major problem here.


scopi_guy 3 years, 8 months ago

Most of the posts I see here are directed at past problems at the zoo and the care, or lack thereof, they receive. It's fairly common knowledge around these parts, and if not, a quick google search under "Toepka Zoo Animal Deaths" will pull up some links to show some examples in the recent past.

"A report obtained Wednesday by The Topeka Capital-Journal concerning a Sept. 28 inspection cited the zoo for several noncompliance issues related to the death of seven animals from January 2007 through July 2008. That investigation was followed an August report by the USDA that cited the zoo for several noncompliance issues.

Among other problems, investigators found that two animals died after being infested with maggots.",0,40119.story

For the sake of the animals, I do hope they've turned around and have better care now.

I found something about the hippo that I thought I recalled hearing about that I mentioned earlier:

"Bonaparte had called for the review on Oct. 22 after federal inspections in the prior two months highlighted questionable care that led to numerous animal deaths at the zoo in recent years. Those included the 2006 death of a hippopotamus found in 108-degree water. "


lizziemarie 3 years, 8 months ago

I am sad that BG and her calf died. I must say that with proper pre-natal care and nutrition and knowledgeable caregivers, pregnancy has never been a "high risk endeavor". Pregnancy and birth are perfectly normal processes for the female body of any species.


BigDog 3 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Pywacket!

I was wondering if there was anyone in here that had some common sense ....

I too am amazed at the number of experts in Lawrence, shoot I didn't know there was even a vet school there ...let alone one that was experts with zoo animals. I guess if the ever need a new vet there shouldn't be a shortage of them close by.


Cynthia Schott 3 years, 8 months ago

She was "found" by zoo staff members the next morning? Found? Why wasn't someone monitoring her? I am overwhelmed.


Pywacket 3 years, 8 months ago

If only they had realized there was a world-renowned cadre of wildlife obstetrics veterinarians right here in Lawrence! They could have consulted with you experts instead of relying on the old conjure woman to whom they paid 4 chicken bones for advice.

Such a rush to judgment from some of you. If the animal's pregnancy and care were handled poorly, we will probably read about it in follow-up stories. Until/unless that is shown to be the case, I'm inclined to believe that they consulted with world-class experts and followed the path that seemed to have the best likelihood of a positive outcome--an outcome that life never guarantees.

The animal was old; the weather has been unbearably hot; she may have had other underlying problems that will come out in the necropsy. (Some breech-positioned human fetuses can't be turned; care to try your hand with a giraffe? Or just waltz in and perform a caesarian, what with anesthetic issues, etc? Talk about risk...)

Pregnancy remains (as it has always been) a rather high-risk endeavor for females of many species, including ours. Morbidity/mortality rates for these animals in the wild are worse than in zoos. Sometimes pregnant females and their fetuses die of complications. It is regrettable, but why assume wrongdoing before you know all the facts?

If it turns out they handled her case carelessly and against prevailing practices of experts, I'll join you on your bandwagon of scorn--but until we know that, can't we give them a little credit? Those animals are not just fixtures, like the buildings. Their keepers love and respect them. I will be very surprised if we learn that they did not avail themselves of the best medical advice and follow it faithfully. Sometimes you just can't beat the odds.


Tammy Copp-Barta 3 years, 8 months ago

And why wasn't a vet with her from 9:00pm until this morning if they KNEW she was having problems? Seems weird .. hope MY doctor doesn't go home if ever I'M in a life/death situation ..


blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

The best parts of Gage Park are the little train that runs through the park and the old carousal. The zoo used to be pretty good, but has really gone downhill.


RATM 3 years, 8 months ago

We are now all animals in a socialist zoo. We will live forever in the care of government insurance and laws for own good. Animals are better off living shorter lives in the wild? I agree. We are animals too.


Amy Heeter 3 years, 8 months ago

Wasn't there a baby born last week with leg deformaties? I went ther once in pre school but don't rememeber much about it


verity 3 years, 8 months ago

Ag, she may have lived to the outer limits of her life, but I can't help thinking she would have been better off living a shorter life in the wild. Or at least not in a cement building.


verity 3 years, 8 months ago

I generally don't go to zoos as I don't like to see wild animals caged or fenced in, but I went along to the Topeka Zoo on a family outing about 12 years ago. I saw an elephant rocking back and forth like it had some kind of mental disorder in a nasty cement building and in the same building a giraffe kept looking at me with the saddest eyes like it was asking me to rescue it. That has always haunted me and now I wonder if that was the giraffe who died.

I can hardly believe they thought leaving her all alone was a good idea---in fact I find that quite stunning.


Agnostick 3 years, 8 months ago

The AP seems to have omitted what I think might be a very important factor in this: According to the "Topeka Capitol-Journal," the calf was in the breech position.

I know I've always heard that for women, a breech birth is very stressful, and even more painful than normal delivery.

This, also, from Wikipedia:

"Wild giraffes have a lifespan close to 13 years while those in captivity live up to 25 years."

I think it's safe to say that at age 25, B.G. had certainly lived to the outer limits of her life expectancy.

None of this changes my opinion of the zoo.


thatonedude 3 years, 8 months ago

Frustrating, since I loved the Topeka Zoo growing up. They just haven't been trying for a while.


Agnostick 3 years, 8 months ago

We all have a favorite animal, generally going back to childhood. This has always been mine.

I have to agree with The_Big_B on this one. I've only been to the Topeka Zoo one time. I was okay with it until I saw the hippos. They were in what was essentially a big concrete pool. No vegetation, no running water, very little room to move around. I was depressed the moment I saw it, and had to fight back tears as I walked away.

I'll never go back.


naturalist 3 years, 8 months ago

I can't believe they didn't do a C-section right away when she first started having problems.


Esq2eB 3 years, 8 months ago

Big_B: Lawrence doesn't even have a zoo. Or jobs. Or an economy. Watch the turnpike or k-10 some morning and witness the city of lawerence going to work in JoCo or Topeka.


LJ Whirled 3 years, 8 months ago

I'm thinking the area occupied by the zoo would be a nice addition to the park and gardens, and with fewer animals being killed. Time to close this death trap.

Topeka: CIty of Idiots


blindrabbit 3 years, 8 months ago

I think the Topeka Zoo has had some management and animal care problems recently; this probably does not help!


Dagny 3 years, 8 months ago

That is sad. The giraffes at the Topeka Zoo are so people friendly.


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