Zoo Mourns Unexpected Loss of Giraffe


The Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin announced that one of its giraffes died unexpectedly on Wednesday morning.

The giraffe, Bahatika, or Baha for short, was being watched closely by staff at the zoo for the past few weeks, zoo officials said, as he was experiencing health issues related to his age.


Baha was 17 years old, and according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, surpassed the average life expectancy of 14 years old, for male giraffes living in zoos.

Zoo officials said Baha’s passing was unexpected and that the facility’s Giraffe Building would be closed on Wednesday to allow zookeepers time to mourn while also giving them time to give the other giraffes in the herd attention.

Although the exact cause of death is unknown, zoo officials said they would share necropsy results once available.

Baha lived most of his life at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

He was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs in June 2005 and transported to Milwaukee in May 2006.

“He grew up at MCZ, and Zoo staff and guests watched him go from a gangly half-grown calf to a handsome bull over the past 17 years,” the zoo said in a press release. “Baha has been MCZ’s breeding bull for the past decade, fathering four male calves with giraffe Ziggy, and fathering three female calves with giraffe Marlee.”

Zoo officials said he was the largest giraffe in the herd and was easy to recognize with his bumpy face.

He was also friendly and outgoing and allowed guests to feed him at public feedings or behind the scenes tours.

Not only that, Baha was also the first giraffe in the herd to allow veterinary staff to draw blood, he participated in hoof radiographs, and took part in a study requiring he and his sister Rahna to wear trackers one day a week, often presenting his leg on cue to allow zookeepers to put the bracelet on.

The zoo said Baha’s memory will live on through his offspring, including three at the zoo named Asante, Maya and Poppy.


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