Paignton Zoo sorrow as giraffe baby dies


The Rothschild’s giraffe born at Paignton Zoo in May has had to be put to sleep by vets. The youngster fed normally from its mother for 12 days before keepers were forced to step in and help out. The baby – a male – was then found collapsed in its stall. Despite the efforts of keepers and the Zoo’s in-house vet team, the difficult decision to put him to sleep was taken.

Ghislaine Sayers, Head of Veterinary Services at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, explained: “He was getting enough milk, first from his mother and then from staff, so there is likely to be an underlying cause that the post-mortem examination will discover, though we won’t get the results for a few weeks.”

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “We all know that with animals, whether they are domestic pets, farm animals or exotic zoo species, there are ups and downs, good times and bad. This is definitely one of the bad times. People here are saddened by this.”

Since the tragic fire in 2006 which claimed the lives of three giraffes, animal experts have rebuilt the Paignton Zoo herd. A male, Yoda, came from Givskud Zoo, Denmark in September 2006. Two females, Sangha and Janica, came to Paignton Zoo from the Czech Republic.

In nine years there have been eight giraffe births at the Zoo. Two animals have moved on to other collections, three – Joanna, Eliska and Otilie – remain at Paignton Zoo with their parents, making a herd of six.

Meanwhile, male Sumatran tiger Tenang has had to be put to sleep because of illness. Vet tests showed that Tenang was most likely suffering from kidney problems. This is very common in cats of all sizes, from domestic pets to wild tigers. In addition, at 14 Tenang was an older animal.

Tenang came to Devon from Perth Zoo in Australia. He was an important breeding animal, fathering 2 cubs in 2006 and 4 in 2009 with female Banda.

Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust Director of Living Collections Stewart Muir said: “Every year we enjoy a lot of successful births, many of which are endangered species supported by the Zoo’s conservation programmes. Births, deaths and marriages are part of daily life in any zoo. It’s unfortunate that these two sad events occurred so close together, both for the staff who care for the animals and for our visitors.”

Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to or ring 0844 474 2222.


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