NewsOn6.com

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Zoo's 9-year-old female giraffe, Amira, is dead. According to a news release from the Tulsa Zoo, the giraffe died early Sunday morning after Zoo staff say they worked around the clock to save her.

Early Saturday morning, zookeepers noted Amira, the giraffe, was acting lethargic and alerted staff veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues. Although the giraffe barn is heated, additional portable heaters were brought in and bedding added, according to a Tulsa Zoo news release. Zookeepers and veterinarian staff worked throughout the night treating Amira for suspected hypothermia, but she died early Sunday morning.

"We found Amira's core body temperature was low and began implementing treatment to raise it," said Backues. Giraffes are susceptible to cold weather as they are physiologically built to dispel heat quickly.

A necropsy was performed, and found her to be in "good body condition," but tissue samples have been sent for further testing and it is hoped results will return within the week.

"This loss has truly been devastating," said Terrie Correll, Director of the Tulsa Zoo, "no one is more heartbroken by this than zoo staff, who worked so valiantly to save Amira's life."

Zoo staff has worked to fortify animal exhibits around the Tulsa Zoo and have also implemented cold-weather procedures to protect the animals since the cold snap began, according to a Tulsa Zoo news release.

The Tulsa Zoo reports it has guidelines in place that determine when animals need to be brought in out of the elements. When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the giraffes are kept in their heated barn and not put out on exhibit. With the intense cold weather Oklahoma is experiencing, Amira and the zoo's male giraffe, Samburu, have been in their barn for some time. Attention has been given to reduce cold drafts around the doors by sealing with plywood and hay bales in the 24-foot-barn, according to the zoo.

The Tulsa Zoo has one giraffe remaining, the 17-year-old bull, Samburu. Zoo staff say they will remain in the giraffe barn to monitor temperatures around the clock until weather conditions improve.

Amira was brought to the Tulsa Zoo in October from the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Amira is the second giraffe to die at the Tulsa Zoo in the past two months. Amali the giraffe arrived at the zoo with a crooked neck. She was put under anesthesia for x-rays, but Amali died when the zoo tried to bring her out of it. 

The Tulsa Zoo bought both Amali and Amira at about the same time, but from different zoos.

The Tulsa city council will be discussing the giraffe deaths at its meeting Tuesday, January 12th at city hall.