Sunday, January 20, 2008

So Sad!

You might recall this photo from an earlier post. I used it to illustrate how sad it is that wild animals have no habitat any more. Now comes word from Brookfield Zoo that Dusti the giraffe died in a tragic accident Saturday.

An 11-year-old male giraffe that was found unresponsive Saturday morning at the Brookfield Zoo died of a broken neck after getting tangled in a rope, a necropsy showed.The giraffe, Dusti, was found caught in a rope by a staff member about 7 a.m. at the zoo's exhibit Habitat Africa! The Savannah, officials said.

He had been checked on at 4:30 a.m. and was fine, but at some point reached over his enclosure in the main exhibit space, stretched around a 90-degree angle and across a 61/2-foot span, and became caught in the rope.Located in a hallway outside the main exhibit, the rope was part of a pulley system used to hang branches and food for the giraffes. It was fastened with multiple safety clips to keep it flush against the wall. Staff members were stunned Dusti was able to reach the rope.

Keepers said they think the animal, which was 17 feet tall, may have used his tongue to grab the rope. Giraffes' tongues can be as long as 20 inches. It is unknown why Dusti was reaching for the rope other than because of his naturally curious disposition, officials said."It was one of those freak accidents; the staff is astonished," said Kim Smith, vice president of Animal Programs for the Chicago Zoological Society, which cares for and breeds giraffes at the zoo. "We are constantly looking at those things and the distance didn't look like something he could get to. This was not something he could get to easily, by any stretch of the imagination."

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