Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo

Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$20 adults, $15 children

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Open Daily, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$20 adults, $15 children

View All Rates ›

Blank Park Zoo Loses Zuri the Giraffe

May 23, 2019

For Immediate Release

DES MOINES, Iowa (May 23, 2019) – Officials from Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today the passing of Zuri, an elderly female giraffe. The giraffe was humanely euthanized on Wednesday due to several age-related chronic health conditions.

Keepers said that Zuri always took part in the public giraffe feeding which is a favorite activity of many Zoo guests.

“Zuri was loved by all. She was always eager to interact with keepers,” said Kayla Freeman, large mammal supervisor. “Zuri made a lasting impact on staff and guests through the many personal connections she made over the years. She had a big heart and wonderful personality and will be greatly missed.”

For the past several years, veterinarians and keepers at Blank Park Zoo had worked successfully to relieve some of her conditions with innovative treatments such as laser therapy, stem cell therapy and a special shoe she wore on her front hoof. They were able to accomplish many of these procedures through training.

"Zuri was such a special giraffe,” said June Old, DVM, chief veterinary programs officer. “We were able to accomplish so many successful veterinary treatments because of her willingness to engage with her trainers. She will always hold a special place in all of our hearts because of her gentle, inquisitive nature.”

Giraffe are the tallest land mammal and are herbivores. According IUCN, the population of giraffe has suffered a dramatic decline in the wild of 35-40 percent since 1985 due to poaching, human population growth, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and habitat degradation. It is estimated that less than 100,000 giraffe remain.

Zuri was 21 years-old and was born on August 24, 1997 at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas and moved to Blank Park Zoo on May 20, 1998. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a female giraffe has a median life expectancy of 19.4 years.

Giraffes Samburu, Skye, Zola and Jacobi remain at Blank Park Zoo.

A necropsy was performed and the results are pending.

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About Blank Park Zoo

The mission of Blank Park Zoo is to inspire and appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research and recreation. Blank Park Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission rates are $14 for adults, $8 for children under 12, and $11 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.


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