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Samburu, elderly giraffe, passes away at Blank Park Zoo

May 18, 2020

Samburu, elderly giraffe, passes away at Blank Park Zoo

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DES MOINES, Iowa (May 18, 2020) – Officials from Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today the passing of Samburu, an elderly female giraffe late last week.

“Sam was always excited to interact and train with her keepers,” said Jordan Longtin, assistant supervisor of large mammals at Blank Park Zoo. “She loved to participate in the ‘Feed the Giraffe’ experience with guests and waited by the deck for guests to come and visit her.”

Samburu was 24 years-old and was born on August 21, 1995 at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and moved to Blank Park Zoo on May 15, 1997. She gave birth to five calves, three male and two female. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a female giraffe has a median life expectancy of 19.4 years.

“As an elderly giraffe, we have been monitoring and managing her arthritis and other age-related conditions for many years,” said Shannon McKinney, director of animal care. McKinney likened Sam’s animal care plan to that of a ‘giraffe’ hospice.

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.

Giraffes 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 currently closed due to the Governor’s proclamation. 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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