Reid Park Zoo Mourns the Loss of Sota the Giraffe

Sota, Reid Park Zoo’s 3-year-old giraffe, was humanely euthanized on Friday March 17.

“During a medical procedure to explore Sota’s swollen ankle joint, the veterinary surgeon was able to determine that the joint did not have any healthy cartilage remaining,” said Dr. Sue Tygielski, Chief Operating Officer of Reid Park Zoo. “The medical team could not provide any relief to the joint. Given this prognosis, our team made the incredibly difficult decision to humanely euthanize Sota.”

Due to the stature of giraffes, leg health is incredibly important. With a leg unable to support normal movement and activity, Sota would not be able to hold his own weight. “While the decision to euthanize is never easy, we know it was the only option as Sota’s quality of life would decline quickly,” Tygielski said.

Sota received careful monitoring and thorough medical attention from his keepers and the Zoo’s veterinary staff, as they worked to make him comfortable in his final weeks. 

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Sota, who is beloved by Zoo staff and visitors alike,” said Nancy Kluge, President & CEO of Reid Park Zoo. “Our hearts go out to the team that worked so closely with Sota every day. We also want to extend a sincere thank you for the medical team, both from the Zoo and the specialists who came to assist in the procedure, for doing everything they could for Sota. We appreciate your efforts.”

It’s not certain how Sota sustained the injury to his ankle initially: it appeared as a minor discomfort as a subtle limp. Our animal care and veterinary teams immediately began monitoring Sota’s leg. Sota had been receiving daily medical treatment including pain medications. Friday’s procedure was the second one the team conducted in an effort to support the ankle joint.

Giraffes Penelope and Jasiri, the other members of the Zoo’s herd, are doing well.  They were given time to visit Sota’s body as he was part of their herd. The Zoo’s animal care team will provide additional behavioral monitoring in the coming weeks as Penelope and Jasiri adjust to Sota’s absence.