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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo says farewell to beloved giraffe Tamu

Posted at 6:00 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 20:56:24-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has lost their oldest giraffe Tamu, who at the time of her passing was also the oldest giraffe in North America.

Tamu came to the zoo in 2003 and became a beloved member of the herd affectionately known as ‘Moose’ or ‘Grandma.’

Animal care manager Jason Bredahl says of Tamu, “she was the nicest giraffe on the planet… and loved to sit under the lettuce hut and eat all day with visiting guests.”

Tamu was also known for her care for the entire herd at the zoo, being a mother to 6 calves herself and also showing maternal protection to all of the new additions at the zoo. That includes Penny who was the zoo’s 200th calf born this year.

Penny struggled with her health and her own mother was often too rough with the fragile baby so Tamu frequently stepped in to give her snuggles and companionship.

“Tamu had a huge heart and brought Penny a lot of comfort in Penny’s final days,” said senior giraffe keeper Amy Schilz. “We all knew that when Penny’s mom was a little too rough for Penny, that Tamu could step in and provide that giraffe-to-giraffe care.”

Tamu would have turned 33 on Friday December 28th. Zoo staff says at the age of 32 she was considered geriatric for her species and her health took a very quick and dramatic turn before she passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving keepers and vet staff.

Tamu and Penny
Tamu and Penny at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in early 2018. (Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)