Maryland Zoo Mourns the Unexpected Loss of 6-Year-Old Giraffe Who 'Inspired Joy and Compassion'

The reticulated giraffe's death comes just over two years after an 8-year-old giraffe died at the Baltimore facility

Photo: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore/facebook

The Maryland Zoo is mourning the loss of Willow, its six-year-old reticulated giraffe.

The Baltimore zoo confirmed on Tuesday that the animal unexpectedly died on Monday night, following several days of exhibiting a decreased appetite.

"Several days ago, Willow's care team noticed something was off when she didn't eat her typical meals and showed other signs of illness," the zoo wrote on Facebook.

Caretakers at the facility made the difficult decision to euthanize the animal after her gastrointestinal condition worsened. Staffers made every effort to save her, the zoo said.

The zoo is conducting a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of Willow's death, according to the zoo's website.

Willow was born in 2017 to Juma and Caesar, who still reside in the Giraffe House at the zoo. According to the Maryland Zoo, Willow's name was decided through a contest that drew more than 26,000 responses.

"Since her birth, Willow has inspired joy and compassion in thousands of people," the Maryland Zoo wrote, adding that the animal successfully transitioned from an awkward calf to a zoo icon.

The zoo continued, "Her presence at the Giraffe Feeding Station, in particular, is something everyone will miss. We could go on about Willow's goofy personality and many life milestones and know those topics will be in conversations today in our barns and your homes. Thank you in advance for joining us in mourning."

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Willow is not the first giraffe to die at the Maryland Zoo. Just over two years ago, eight-year-old Anuli, another reticulated giraffe, unexpectedly died.

Anuli had been undergoing treatment for about six months for episodes of abdominal distention in her rumen, the first compartment in her stomach, according to the zoo.

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