An Update on Elinor

Earlier this month, Reid Park Zoo was deeply saddened by the loss of Elinor, the 20-year-old reticulated giraffe. Elinor passed away on Labor Day, and has been dearly missed by Zoo staff, volunteers, and guests alike.

Elinor underwent a necropsy (an animal autopsy) at the University of Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and the results have come back revealing Elinor had developed cancer.

“Elinor died of an aggressive, malignant cancer known as lymphoma. Her symptoms and progression of disease were rapid. Although a common form of cancer in people and many animals, lymphoma is extremely rare in giraffe and not much is known about successful treatment,” said Dr. Alexis Roth, Chief Veterinarian.

“Elinor was loved so much by staff and guests. Little kids that visit the zoo knew her from the other giraffe and would wait to visit with and feed Elinor. She had her own special fan club.  While some guests marveled at Jasiri’s tall height, and others at Denver’s bold nature, Elinor was often the sweet favorite,” said Sue Tygielski, Director of Zoo Operations.

Elinor was a geriatric giraffe, having exceeded her species’ median life expectancy of 19 years. Elinor lived at Reid Park Zoo with two other giraffes: Jasiri, an 8-year-old male, and Denver, a 30-year-old female who is the second oldest giraffe in an AZA-accredited Zoo. Both giraffes had the opportunity to see Elinor after she passed. In the days following her death, Jasiri and Denver spent more time close to one another, traveled in and out of the barn together, preferring not to be apart, which is not always typical of the two.

“We have been so grateful for the outpouring of love, support, and fond memories in the wake of Elinor’s death. It’s apparent how much she has meant to our community, and what an impactful ambassador for her species Elinor was,” said Nancy Kluge, President/CEO of the Zoo.