Baby giraffe dies at Maryland Zoo despite plasma transfusion from Colorado

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BALTIMORE — Despite the best efforts of zookeepers and veterinarians, a 2-month-old giraffe named Julius passed away at the Maryland Zoo on Saturday.

“It’s hard to put our emotions into words right now,” Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the Zoo, stated. “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.”

Julius was born on June 15. He was 6-foot and weighed 143 pounds at birth but was never able to learn to nurse effectively, zoo officials said.

Zookeepers started bottle feeding Julius and he gained weight fairly steadily for about two weeks.

Then, in July, his weight started to drop. Officials announced there had been a “sudden and major change in Julius’ blood work” and said he was in an “intensive care situation.”

Julius received an emergency transfusion of giraffe plasma donated by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and another transfusion donated by the Columbus Zoo.

After the transfusion, officials said there was a “slight improvement.”

However, his condition continued to decline.

“Despite intensive medical interventions, tube feeding and around the clock care, Julius remained a critical patient,” stated Dr. Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian at the Zoo. “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,” Sander stated.

“A necropsy will be done to try and determine what put Julius at this health deficit from the beginning,” continued Sander. “Sometimes there are underlying issues that are not able to be identified or solved by even the best science and skill.”