Patches, the oldest reticulated giraffe in the United States, was euthanized Thursday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The 16-foot-tall giraffe, who has been at Zoo Knoxville since 1987, was 31 and had been in declining health and was being treated for arthritis, the newspaper reported.
Zoo officials said a giraffe's average life expectancy is 27 years, WCYB reported. A reticulated giraffe is a species also known as a Somali giraffe and is native to Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.
“Over her lifetime, Patches was an iconic ambassador. She made it possible for millions of visitors who will never have the opportunity to travel to Africa to experience the beauty and gracefulness of her species,” Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville president and CEO, said in a statement. “We will always be grateful to her for inspiring our community to care about the future of giraffes and to support the work we are doing to save them.”
At the zoo, Patches gave birth to eight giraffe calves, the News Sentinel reported. Each was fathered by the zoo's longtime male, the late Magic, the newspaper reported. The youngest calf, Lucille, was born in 2002, WCYB reported.
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