The Maryland Zoo has reported the death of its month-old giraffe calf Julius, saying that it has left the organization with "heavy hearts."
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“It’s hard to put our emotions into words right now,” Don Hutchinson, president and CEO of the zoo, said in a statement. “Our veterinary staff and our animal care team put their lives on hold to try and nurse Julius back to health, and every avenue was explored. Sadly, he was unable to survive in spite of their Herculean efforts.”
Julius was born to first-time mother Kesi during the early morning hours of Thursday, June 15, but was never able to learn to nurse effectively, the zoo reported in a statement on their website.
Staff supplemented the baby giraffe with a special colostrum formula, and attempted to teach him to bottle feed, according to the zoo.
Julius was given two transfusions of giraffe plasma to boost his immune system, and received multiple courses of antibiotics, IV fluids, and other intensive care in order to provide nutritional support and to stabilize his condition, among other procedures, the zoo said.
“Despite intensive medical interventions, tube feeding and around the clock care, Julius remained a critical patient,” Dr. Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian at the zoo said in the statement. “His condition took a sharp turn downward overnight, and we had to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize him. This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, but we rest assured that we did everything we possibly could medically to prevent him from any distress.”
A postmortem examination of Julius will be performed to try and determine what put him in poor health so early in life, Sander added.
Animal lovers on Twitter, using the hashtag #TeamJulius, have offered love and sympathy to the giraffe as well as zoo workers throughout the month-long ordeal of trying to bring him into stable health.
"My heart goes out to the Maryland Zoo team and their giraffe keepers," Twitter user Allysa Swilley posted today. "Sometimes those tireless efforts simply aren't enough. #TeamJulius."