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Tulsa Zoo Announces Death Of Sam The Giraffe

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Samburu died Saturday, June 15 at age 21. Samburu died Saturday, June 15 at age 21.
Sam (right) celebrating his 21st birthday in May. Sam (right) celebrating his 21st birthday in May.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Tulsa Zoo announced the death of its only male giraffe, Samburu. Known by most as Sam, the 21-year-old animal was euthanized Saturday, June 15, due to a recently diagnosed fractured foot that left him unable to stand or move without pain.

"At 21 years of age, Sam lived much longer than the average male giraffe in human care," said Sarah Floyd of Tulsa Zoo Management in a news release.

"We will greatly miss Sam, who has been an ambassador of the Tulsa Zoo since his birth here in 1992."

The release said Sam had been slowly declining due to chronic, degenerative osteoarthritis which is not uncommon in large-bodied animals. Zoo staff noted a "sudden major decline" in his abilities to move, and x-rays showed a fractured right foot.

7/29/2011 Related Story: 'Giraffe Experience' Opening Draws Crowds At Tulsa Zoo

"The source of this fracture is unknown but may have been caused by something as simple as a misstep during his normal routines," Floyd said.

Zoo medical staff recommended euthanasia because Sam's size would have made it very difficult for the injury to heal.

The Tulsa Zoo had maintained three giraffes since females Pili and Lexi arrived in June of 2011. They replaced two females who died in separate incidents in less than two months. One died of hypothermia on January 10, 2010. Another died after arriving at the zoo with a Broken neck. Amali died on December 4, 2009.

"I don't think we have a giraffe problem. I'd say we have giraffe success. Again, Sam lived his whole life here--21 years. And 21 years of age for a male giraffe in captivity is actually longer than average," said Jay Barkowski, Vice President of Animal Conservation and Science. "And we have a long future with giraffes with our females, also."

5/9/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Zoo Celebrates 21st Birthday Of Its Tallest Resident

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