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Nov 19, 2010 11:05 PM by Stefanie Boe, Matt Stafford

New Information: giraffe had to be euthanized

A sad day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo after a 20-year old giraffe had to be euthanized. Uhura fell Friday after being bumped by another giraffe. The animal lost her footing and fell down a slope that acts as a natural barrier between the giraffes and guests.

Stephanie Hoyes was with her kids and family at the zoo, right in front of 25 year old Uhura when it happened. They were feeding one Uhura, when another giraffe came over.

"...and then jumped on top of, like mounted, I think bullying, and pushed the other giraffe. Literally, just like a rag doll, (Uhura) fell into the ditch, just tumbled," says Hoyes "It's a huge ditch."

The zoo closed early.  Hoyes and other guests were asked to leave.  They were trying to keep down the commotion during the attempt to save Uhura.

"We don't want to scare her so we're trying to keep her calm," a zoo spokeswoman told media a few hours into the rescue attempt.

Zoo staff and emergency reposonders worked for four hours to get her into a standing position.  However, she was unable to remain standing on her own. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo veterinary and animal care staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize Uhura.

Here is more information from a zoo news release about what happened:

The Zoo's Director of Conservation, Dr. Della Garelle, and Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Liza Dadone agreed on her grave prognosis. "As her condition declined and it was clear that she could not stand without assistance, we only had one viable option. It is of utmost importance at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to value quality of life and know when decisions like these need to be made."

A necropsy will be performed to determine the extent of her injuries.

"It's hard to lose old friends," said Tracy Thessing, Director of Animal Collections. Thessing has worked with Uhura since the giraffe's birth.  Uhura was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

"We are grateful for the extraordinary assistance from Broadmoor Fire Department, Station 13 and Station 4; Heavy Rescue - Station 17 and the District 2 Chief. They were an integral part of a tremendous effort tonight, " said Tracey Gazibara, Vice President of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Uhura had 10 offspring from 1995-2009; 7 females, 3 males. Five of the females still live at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo while the others reside at various AZA accredited Zoos throughout the country.

The zoo plans to open back for normal hours on Saturday. The outdoor giraffe exhibit will be closed while they look into what caused Uhura's fall.  However, the giraffes will be able to be seen indoors.

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