Published September 9, 2022

Zoo Decides Giraffe's Future

Written by
The Dakotan
| The Dakotan
Mashama, at Roosevelt Park Zoo. (Photo: submitted)
Mashama, at Roosevelt Park Zoo. (Photo: submitted)

MINOT – Over the past several years the staff at the Roosevelt Park Zoo has been treating the 21-year-old male giraffe, Mashama, for pain issues related to his front legs. 

Working with giraffe veterinary experts within the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), x-rays showed a variety of age-related issues that were causing his discomfort.  From basic arthritis to ligament injuries the pain was apparent.  As time has progressed, so too has his condition and despite efforts to manage his daily discomfort it has become apparent that the time has come to make some changes.  His condition is irreversible at this stage of life and increasing pain medication could only create more serious and dangerous issues for Mashama, the other giraffes, and the staff.

The time has come where the difficult decision regarding Mashama’s future must be made.  After many in-house discussions, conferencing with giraffe veterinarians across the country, and weighing his overall quality of life, the decision has been made that the kindest act is to ease his pain by humane euthanasia. 

Zoo Director, Jeff Bullock said “This is never a decision that is made lightly and is always questioned as to whether it is being done too soon or if we’ve waited too long, but the best you can do is to take all the information at hand and make a decision that you can feel confident in.”

An exact date has not yet been set for the procedure, but zoo officials plan to move forward prior to the weather turning cooler and aggravating his arthritis.  With an animal of this size there is a lot of planning that will need to take place before the day of the procedure.

Mashama was born at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, IL on Aug. 29, 2001, and came to the Roosevelt Park Zoo in May 2003.  He remained at the zoo since that time except for a 2-year period during the 2011 flood and after while the zoo was recovering.  

In his 19-year tenure at the Zoo, Mashama sired 9 calves with Kianga, our 22-year-old female.   According to a recent article published by the New York Times, Giraffes in captivity have an average life expectancy of 20 to 25 years; their life span in the wild is about 10 to 15 years.  While we all wished more for Mashama, he has led a full and fruitful life.

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