A month-old giraffe named Julius was euthanized last week at the Maryland Zoo after veterinary staff there spent a month attempting to nurse the calf back to health.
The calf’s mother Kesi gave birth to him on June 15. Zoo staff noticed that Julius did not learn to nurse properly. After a month of round-the-clock care and treatments, the zoo decided to put Julius to rest.
“It’s hard to put our emotions into words right now,” said Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Zoo in a statement. “Our veterinary staff and our animal care team put their lives on hold to try and nurse Julius back to health, and every avenue was explored. Sadly, he was unable to survive in spite of their Herculean efforts.”
Staff at the zoo started feeding Julius a special formula 24 hours a day and attempted to teach him to bottle feed. To boost his immune system, the baby giraffe was even given two transfusions of giraffe plasma collected from the Columbus and Cheyenne Mountain Zoos.
The Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital generously donated a special nutrition formula and helped to administer it.
“Despite intensive medical interventions, tube feeding and around the clock care, Julius remained a critical patient,” said Dr. Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian at the Zoo in a statement.
“His condition took a sharp turn downward overnight, and we had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him. This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, but we rest assured that we did everything we possibly could medically to prevent him from any distress.”
A necropsy will be conducted to investigate if an underlying issue caused the giraffe’s decline.
The zoo expressed their thanks to everyone who was involved in the attempted rescue.
“We would like to thank the thousands of people from around the world who have sent positive thoughts and prayers to Julius and the staff here at the Zoo,” said Hutchinson.
“The outpouring of support has indeed bolstered everyone at the Zoo, and most especially the people who have been working directly with Julius and the rest of the giraffe herd through this very trying time.”
People online lamented losing Julius.
“Sweet baby Julius, you touched so many lives,” wrote one person. “I’ve loved you from the beginning and I’m so sorry your time here was so short. Thank you for allowing us to share your journey. You will be greatly missed.”