BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Hearts are heavy at the Maryland Zoo, as officials announced the death of one-month-old giraffe calf Julius on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s hard to put our emotions into words right now,” said Don Hutchinson, President and CEO of the Zoo.
“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.”
The announcement was made on social media.
The joy of the first male giraffe born at the Maryland Zoo in 20 years turned to concern shortly after his birth, when he was unable to nurse properly, which made him unable to get the antibodies necessary to thrive.
“He has been a critical patient since he was born,” says zoo veterinarian Dr. Samantha Sander. “We have been working with him throughout that time, trying to help stabilize him and get him stronger.”
The newborn quickly gained well-wishers.
“I’ve been following every day to see how he’s doing,” one visitor told WJZ.
The zoo’s vets tried to give him what he needed.
“That included different types of bottle feeding and assist feeding to try to encourage him to drink on his own,” Dr. Sander says.
But even the best efforts failed.
The team tried “a lot of different specialty types of care for Julius and tried to respond to every kind of curve ball he threw at us and tried to aid him throughout this process,” according to Sanders. “Unfortunately, he did show a decline, however, and we did elect to euthanize.”
Zoo staff says the decision to euthanize was difficult but humane, and now attention turns to the dynamics of the herd in the wake of this loss.
“We encourage everyone to come see the herd and help us through this process together,” Sander says..
Julius was just a month old, born June 15.
The herd includes Julius’s mother and three-month-old half-sister, Willow.
To post on the Zoo’s memorial wall for Julius CLICK HERE.