Cheyenne Mountain Zoo euthanizes Penny the giraffe

Posted at 8:45 PM, Jul 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 22:45:17-04

In a Facebook live video posted Monday night, staff with the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo announced they made the difficult decision to euthanize Penny, the zoo’s 200th giraffe.

On Sunday, Penny was taken to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University for surgery on an abscess in her abdomen. Veterinarians there soon found Penny’s condition was worse than previously thought.

The zoo said Penny found an abscess that spread into her abdomen and there were signs that an infection had spread into three of her legs. The veterinary team also found a dislocated hip joint that was not found during multiple x-rays over the past few weeks.

The team ultimately determined the giraffe could not overcome the medical issues to live a quality life, leading veterinarians to euthanize the nearly 2-month-old giraffe.

The zoo released the following statement Monday night:

We are absolutely heartbroken, but we truly appreciate all of your support over this near two-month journey. The outpouring of love, thoughts, prayers and kind words has been unwavering and overwhelming. While this is not the outcome we hoped for, we are confident that Penny’s legacy will live on in the work we do to improve medical and husbandry care for giraffe in Zoos around the world. Thanks to Penny, more people are now educated on the plight of giraffe in the wild. We will soon begin the planning process for a Penny memorial, and will be able to share more details as our staff regroups and moves forward in the coming days.

The zoo also added that its upcoming trip to Uganda to assist with giraffe conservation efforts will be dedicated to Penny’s memory.

The giraffe was born on June 4, which was watched by thousands over Facebook live.

Medical problems first appeared with Penny when she was 9-days-old, when the giraffe’s legs went out from under her. The zoo’s staff then followed her condition closely, giving her assistance standing and feeding while she recovered.

Ultimately, treatments to help the giraffe recover from the incident did not work, causing the giraffe to experience setbacks over the coming weeks.

In a news release Monday night, the zoo described Penny as a staff favorite. The giraffe was described as a gentle and kind animal who helped pick her own name when it was narrowed down to two choices: Mia and Penny.

The staff said they played ABBA’s "Mamma Mia" and The Beatles "Penny Lane," and when the giraffe’s ears perked up while the Fab Four’s classic played, it made the decision simple.

The zoo announced it will close the giraffe building Tuesday and Wednesday to give zookeepers some privacy. The zoo said a box will be placed outside of the building for visitors to leave cards for the keepers.