Reid Park Zoo Announces Death of Elinor the Giraffe

Reid Park Zoo is sad to announce the death of Elinor, the Zoo’s 20-year-old reticulated giraffe.

Elinor was born at the Knoxville Zoological Gardens on May 29, 1999 and came to Reid Park Zoo in 2010, when she was 11 years old.

Elinor was the shyest of the Zoo’s giraffes and would often follow Denver, the other female giraffe. When she initially arrived at the Zoo, Elinor was wary to participate at the giraffe feeding platform, but over time she became confident around guests and welcomed carrots from them. She could be easily recognized by her coat — her spots had spots within them.

Elinor died on Monday, September 2, one day after first demonstrating signs of respiratory distress. The Zoo’s veterinary team responded with medical treatment immediately but, sadly, Elinor passed away. Elinor has not had a history of breathing problems in the past. Her necropsy (animal autopsy) at the University of Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will reveal more. It will take several weeks to get all the results back and will be Elinor’s final contribution to her species’ survival.

The median life expectancy of giraffes like Elinor is 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 the United States. Giraffes are listed as a vulnerable species and less than 70,000 animals remain in the wild.

Reid Park Zoo is dedicated to whole-life care and is home to several animals who have exceeded the median life expectancy for their species. Many species tend to live longer in Zoos because of the nutrition, health care, and daily attention animal care professionals provide.

Elinor was a beloved member of Reid Park Zoo. Our thoughts are with everyone who loved Elinor, particularly her Keepers and those who visited her at the giraffe feeding platform, who are sure to feel her loss deeply.