MIAMI – Veterinarians euthanized Pongo, a ZooMiami giraffe, on Monday morning after he was suffering from increasing pain, ZooMiami announced on Monday afternoon.
Pongo arrived at ZooMiami in 2009 after he was born at the Denver Zoo and nursed with his mother Masika, a reticulated giraffe, also known as a Somali giraffe.
At 16-feet tall, Pongo had grown into the tallest giraffe of the zoo’s herd and visitors were able to see him closely at the Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station.
“He will be terribly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and the privilege of working with him,” ZooMiami’s Ron Magill said in a statement.
Pongo’s suffering with his left rear hoof started with a small fracture. To treat him, veterinarians immobilized him on Sept. 19. He received laser therapy and custom shoes to help promote the healing of the fracture and alleviate his pain, according to Magill.
“Initially, this resulted in him walking normally which was a huge relief to the team,” Magill wrote. “However, several weeks after the procedure, the shoes detached and sometime following the loss of the shoes, he apparently re-injured that hoof and began to again favor it significantly.”
After the injury appeared to have worsened and none of the treatments were effective, veterinarians decided to immobilize Pongo again on Monday morning.
“Sadly, the X-rays revealed that within the last two weeks he had further fractured his foot in a way that prevented the Animal Health team from being able to treat it successfully and the painful decision was made to euthanize him while he was still under anesthesia,” Magill wrote.
Pongo would have turned 12 years old on Feb. 15. The Denver Zoo staff euthanized Pongo’s 23-year-old mother Masika last year. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, giraffes can live up to 25 years in captivity.