The Oakland Zoo yesterday issued a press release mourning the loss of Tiki, one of the oldest living giraffes in captivity.
In recent months, 28-year-old Tiki—short for T'Keyah—suffered from several medical issues, including arthritis that affected her feet, back and neck. After assessing her health, zoo veterinarians made the ultimate decision to euthanize her.
“T'Keyah was unique, everyone who met her fell in love with her instantly," said Jessica Real, the zoo's senior giraffe keeper. According to Real, caring for Tiki helped zookeepers advance new ways of treating giraffes.
"Articles were published in countries around the world, shedding new light on what was possible for giraffes in human care," noted Real. "She’ll be deeply missed."
Born at the Oakland Zoo in 1989, Tiki began developing medical issues at age 14 that required "zookeepers to think ‘outside the box’ of traditional giraffe management in animal care," said the release.
To alleviate her discomfort, zookeepers regularly treated her with acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care.
In 2008, she made headlines again when she was photographed wearing a personalized green coat. According to the zoo, she needed the extra layer to keep warm while socializing with other members of her herd.
A mother and grandmother, Tiki leaves behind five calves, including Twiga, Benghazi and Balthazar, who are still in Oakland, and two others who have found homes in other zoos.