Omaha Zoo's Oldest Giraffe Dottie Dies at 22: 'She Will Be Greatly Missed'

Dottie the reticulated giraffe spent her entire life at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska and was seen by millions of zoo visitors in her lifetime

dottie the giraffe
Photo: Henry Dorley Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska is mourning the loss of a longtime friend.

On June 1, the Omaha zoo announced that Dottie, the oldest giraffe living at the facility, died on May 31 at the age of 22 years, 8 months, and 19 days.

Dottie, a reticulated giraffe, spent her entire life at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. She was born at the park on Sept. 13, 1999. The giraffe is survived by her three children, two daughters, Lolo and Zoe, and a son, Malcolm. Lolo still resides at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo; her two siblings have moved to different zoos as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan.

"After spending her entire life in Omaha, Dottie was seen by millions of zoo visitors and was an ambassador for conservation," Dan Cassidy, the vice president of animal management for Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, said in a zoo news release. "She will be greatly missed by our zoo family and the Omaha community. Dottie lives on through her offspring, positively impacting the sustainability of her species in zoos."

According to the zoo, keepers found Dottie on her side after a fall Tuesday morning. Zoo veterinarians responded to the incident immediately. Unfortunately, the aging giraffe couldn't get back on her feet.

dottie the giraffe
Henry Dorley Zoo and Aquarium

"Getting up from laying down is a concerted, massive effort even for a young, healthy giraffe due to their large body mass," Dr. Laura Kleinschmidt, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, an associate veterinarian with the zoo, said.

The zoo made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the giraffe after speaking with Dottie's keepers and veterinarians, who confirmed Dottie could not stand on her own.

The average life expectancy for a wild female giraffe is about 20.2 years and 14.7 years for males, per Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.

"Dottie is a testament to the excellent quality care provided by both her animal care staff and the veterinary team at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, from animal care staff training with her to allow oral medications to veterinary care staff safely anesthetizing her for hoof trims with visiting expert consultants," added Dr. Kleinschmidt. "Dottie was able to share another three years of her life with her family group, including recently becoming an 'auntie' to new giraffe calf Arthur. Dottie was well-loved by all that had the chance to know her."

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