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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo baby giraffe euthanized for health reasons

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cheyenne Mountain Zoo said Monday night that its youngest giraffe, Penny, had to be euthanized.

Penny the giraffe. (Photo: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

Penny faced a spate of health problems from the time of her birth on June 4. Veterinarians were aggressively monitoring her after she was found splayed in her pen nine days after being born.

“Splaying means that her legs had gone out from underneath her in an unnatural way,” officials said. “This can be anywhere from not very serious and treatable to life-threatening.”

Penny was scheduled to undergo surgery earlier Monday when caretakers found her condition far worse than expected.

The zoo said the giraffe had an abscess that spread into her abdomen and an infection had spread into three of her legs.

The veterinary team also found a dislocated hip joint that had not been seen on X-rays over the past few weeks.

The decision to euthanize the giraffe was made considering her “quality of life.”

“We are absolutely heartbroken, but we truly appreciate all of your support over this near two-month journey,” the zoo said in a statement. “The outpouring of love, thoughts, prayers and kind words has been unwavering and overwhelming.

“While this is not the outcome we hoped for, we are confident that Penny’s legacy will live on in the work we do to improve medical and husbandry care for giraffe in zoos around the world. Thanks to Penny, more people are now educated on the plight of giraffe in the wild.”

A memorial is being planned, officials said.

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