On Sunday, animal lovers around the globe expressed their condolences for Julius, the baby giraffe that was born at the Maryland Zoo in June. In a statement, the zoo said that he was never able to learn how to nurse properly.
Julius was born to first-time mother Kesi on June 15th and he needed around-the-clock care from the beginning. On Saturday, the zoo announced that his condition had taken “a sharp turn downward overnight,” and the most humane solution was to euthanize him.
According to the zoo’s staff, Julius couldn’t learn to nurse from his mother and by the end of his first day, specialists began teaching him how to bottle feed. During this time he was missing out on crucial antibodies from his mother’s milk. The statement outlines the efforts that were taken to save him:
In order to boost his immune system, he was given two transfusions of giraffe plasma, from the Columbus and Cheyenne Mountain Zoos, as well as multiple courses of antibiotics, IV fluids, and other intensive care in order to provide nutritional support and to stabilize his condition.
Zookeepers still have hope that a necropsy will provide information that will help experts better understand what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, giraffe populations on Earth have plummeted by 38 percent over the last thirty years. The organization lists illegal hunting, habitat loss and degradation, and civil unrest as major factors that are responsible for their decline. The world’s tallest land mammals deserve better.