Local News

33-year-old giraffe dies at N.C. Zoo

Posted September 14, 2010 4:02 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Zoo lost one of it oldest and best-known residents late Monday when Julie, a 33-year-old female giraffe, died.

Julie was the second-oldest giraffe in captivity.

Zoo keepers found the 15-foot-tall animal dead when they arrived for work Tuesday morning. A necropsy determined that cancerous growths at the base of Julie's heart ruptured the giraffe's aorta, officials said.

In recent months, Julie's health had deteriorated, and zoo officials used a closed-circuit television camera to monitor the animal during the evenings. Julie appeared to be fine on the camera at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, officials said.

Julie was born in March 1977 at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., and was transferred to the N.C. Zoo in July 1979.

The N.C. Zoo’s other giraffes – three males and a female ranging in age from 2½ to 3 years – remain on exhibit and in good health, officials said. A 1-year-old female giraffe is expected to arrive in Asheboro in November from Zoo Miami.