Taronga Zoo keepers have been saddened by the passing of their oldest and much loved Giraffe ‘Hope' today.
At 24 years of age, ‘Hope' was one of the oldest Giraffes in the Australasian region and a much loved resident of Taronga Zoo.
Giraffe Supervisor, Renae Zamitt, said: "Over the past couple of years ‘Hope' had been experiencing a number of age - related problems which had been successfully managed by our keeping staff, however over the weekend it became clear that ‘Hope' was no longer enjoying a high quality of life and to avoid any unnecessary suffering, the decision was made to humanely euthanse her early this morning."
‘Hope' was somewhat of a Taronga celebrity known as the ‘blind giraffe' to many visitors. When her eye sight began to deteriorate over 10 years ago her dedicated keepers started making adjustments to ensure her continued well-being and safety.
As a giraffe with no sight she would have been lucky to survive one night in the wild, but at the Zoo she showed remarkable resilience and gradually adjusted to her disability, expertly navigating her way around her enclosure, which ironically for her had spectacular harbour views. She even seemed to distinguish each of her keepers from the sound of the jingling of their keys.
"It is always heartbreaking to lose a member of the Taronga family, especially an animal you have been caring for through its aged, twilight years. However ‘Hope' definitely had a good innings, she was a real sweetheart and a keeper favourite, but it would have been far worse to prolong her life," said Renae.
The average life expectancy of Giraffes is about 20-25 years, although in zoos giraffes like ‘Hope' regularly live comfortably into their old age due to the expert veterinary and zoo keeper care they receive.
Throughout her lifetime ‘Hope' sired nine giraffe calves, playing a vital role in the Australasian breeding program for this endangered species.
Taronga's giraffe herd includes Hope's 15 year old daughter, ‘Nyota', as well as ‘Andara', ‘Zarrafa' and the youngest resident, three year old ‘Jimmiyu', which was the most recent arrival driven by road convoy from Western Plains Zoo through Sydney's streets.
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