Female Giraffe Dies at Henry Vilas Zoo

September 15, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823 Jim Hubing (608) 266-4708
County Executive

Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo staff is sad to report that the zoo’s 10-year-old reticulated giraffe, Savannah, died Friday evening (Sept.12). Savannah was born at Henry Vilas Zoo on March 9, 1993. In November of 2000 she gave birth to “RJ.” Both RJ and Savannah’s mate, Raymond, remain at Henry Vilas Zoo. Zoo staff discovered Savannah Friday afternoon, in her outdoor exhibit, in shock, lying on her side unable to get up. Zoo staff, assisted by Zoo veterinarian Dr. Mike Petersen and University of Wisconsin School of Veterinarian Medicine veterinarians Drs. Jean Pare’ and Joanne Paul-Murphy, immediately provided emergency care and attempted to stabilize her condition with intravenous fluids and medications. “Despite great efforts by Zoo and veterinarian staff, Savannah died peacefully Friday evening,” said Jim Hubing, zoo director. While the exact cause of death has not been determined, the preliminary diagnosis indicates that Savannah suffered severe head trauma and cerebral bleeding. It appears that while exercising with RJ and Raymond, Savannah fell and hit her head. The Wisconsin Animal Health Laboratory is completing an autopsy. “Please remember Savannah as the beautiful and gentle giraffe that brought happiness to all. Her legacy, RJ, will continue to bring the wonders of the animal world to our Henry Vilas Zoo,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. # # #