Descriptive Statistics of Captive Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) Mortality in American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA)-Accredited Facilities from 1988–2005
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2006
Lindsey J. Long1, DVM; Judy St. Ledger2, DVM, DACVP; Patricia M. Dennis1,3, DVM, PhD, DACZM; William J. A. Saville1, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Laurie Bingaman Lackey4; Erin Harper2
1Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA; 2Sea World San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA; 3Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland, OH, USA; 4Intl Species Information System, Eagan, MN, USA


A survey was conducted to identify primary causes of mortality in the captive giraffe population held at American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA)-accredited facilities in the United States. Data on management practices, reproductive and behavioral information, as well as clinical histories and necropsy results were submitted from 44 facilities that house giraffe. According to studbook data, there were 670 reported mortalities in the indicated time period; 210 (31%) of these giraffes were represented in the surveys collected. The surveys were divided into three groups for analysis: neonates (giraffes less than 4 mo of age), sub-adults/juveniles (4 mo to 3 yr), and adults (3 yr and older). Preliminary results indicate that primary mortality concerns for neonates include infections, non-specific failure to thrive, trauma, and stillbirths of undetermined cause. Mortality of sub-adults was often associated with trauma or nutritional deficiencies. Adult mortalities were often associated with lameness connected to arthritis or chronic hoof problems, or wasting. A striking finding across all age categories is the number of animals that had no histories of clinical disease signs and that were found either acutely dead or in lateral recumbency with death following. Statistical analysis is ongoing but illustrates that a controlled investigation of the captive giraffe population is warranted to better identify risk factors associated with specific causes of mortality.


The authors would like to thank all of the zoos and individuals that responded to the survey requests.


Speaker Information
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Lindsey J. Long, DVM
Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH, USA

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