South Dakota’s Cherished Zoo Giraffe Euthanized Following a Severe Foot Injury

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A cherished giraffe at a South Dakota zoo has passed away.

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The Great Plains Zoo and Butterfly House & Aquarium in Sioux Falls shared the sad news of the death of Chioke, an 18-year-old reticulated giraffe, on March 28.

“After suffering from a severe break in his front left foot, our Animal Care and Veterinary team faced the tough but necessary choice to humanely put him to sleep,” the zoo stated in a press release.

Chioke was born at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and arrived at the zoo in 2007. Standing nearly 15 feet tall, he fathered three calves that have since moved to other zoos. The zoo celebrated him for his playful nature.

In his later years, Chioke experienced ongoing issues with his hooves and feet, including two fractures to his toe bone’s tip and subsequent arthritis, according to the zoo. His condition became critical with a more severe break in March.

The zoo sought advice from experts across the country for a care strategy and tried various treatments like medication, rest, and laser therapy. Nevertheless, they had to make the sorrowful decision to euthanize Chioke due to concerns over his quality of life, after considering and then discarding the options of surgical immobilization or using an orthopedic appliance. X-rays had revealed that the fracture had deteriorated further.

Before his passing, zoo employees came to bid farewell, treating him to apple biscuits, one of his treats of choice.

“We’ll always remember Chioke as a kind, inquisitive, and playful giraffe who loved interacting with his caregivers and visitors,” the zoo expressed. “’Chioke’ translates to ‘gift from God,’ and he truly was one.”

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