JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The staff of the Jackson Zoo are mourning the loss of “Casper” the giraffe after he unexpectedly died Sunday afternoon.
The 13-year-old Reticulated giraffe first made an appearance at the Jackson Zoo in 2004, one year after being born in Milwaukee. Casper was one of the zoo’s main attractions, as he was one of the first animals that visitors saw when they entered the zoo.
The giraffe’s keepers first saw a change in his behavior and immediately notified the veterinarian team at the zoo to diagnose what was wrong with him. Because of a giraffe’s size and build, any illness that happens to them can be very difficult to cure.
Dr. Michael Holifield, one of the veterinarians that worked on Casper, said that the giraffe was diagnosed as having urinary stones with a blockage, but the surgery to remove them was unsuccessful.
Casper’s condition did temporarily improve due to a change in the medical attention he received and a change in his diet, even actively engaging with his young “adoptive” brother “Knox”, but ultimately he passed away behind the scenes in the care of the zoo staff.
He’s now the second animal to die at the zoo in October, after Katya the snow leopard was euthanized back on October 15th. While zoo staff was still adjusting to Katya’s passing, they understand that animals living and dying are a part of the territory.
“Life and death, occurring for all living things, is part of the day to day experience in any zoo,” said Jackson Zoo Executive Director Beth Poff. “Every animal’s passing is felt, especially with the ones that our guests see as long time ‘celebrities.’ It will be sad to no longer greet ‘Casper’ as we enter the zoo, he will be missed.”