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Updated: September 16, 2009 15:03 IST

'Raja' the Giraffe died at Thiruvananthapuram zoo

Staff Reporter
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A file photo of a Giraffe at a zoo. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf
A file photo of a Giraffe at a zoo. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

The lone giraffe at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo, Raja, died on Tuesday night. It was 10 years old.

The post mortem conducted on Wednesday morning revealed that the immediate cause of death was asphyxiation. The animal had developed a massive allergy and this resulted in continuous bleeding from the larynx and subsequent clotting.

Blood clots were found all the way from the larynx down to near the lungs, the zoo vet Joe Jacob Sebastian said here on Wednesday. The cause of the allergy is yet to be identified.

“It could also have been from the food, we don’t know for sure. The blood clots blocked the animal’s trachea. This also had a secondary effect. The giraffe is a ruminant and gases from its stomach chamber are expelled through the mouth. In Raja’s case this was not possible. So his stomach bloated up and started exerting pressure on the lungs and on the heart,” Dr. Sebastian explained.

The animal was brought over from Mysore in 2002. It was injured in its leg during transit and was on treatment ever since. Though this injury and its internal impacts was initially thought to have caused the animal’s death, Dr. Sebastian said the post mortem revealed that the wounds on Raja’s leg had healed completely except for a small lesion on the skin.

The zoo director Vijayakunmari Amma said here that Raja was brought over as a potential mate for the female giraffe Moly. When Moly herself was being transported by road to the city zoo more than two decades ago, a male that was being brought with it was electrocuted in transit when its neck hit an overhead electric cable. Since Moly was well past her prime by the time Raja arrived, the zoo’s plan to add to its giraffe population did not materialise. The female died in 2008, aged 32.

Following Moly’s death the zoo drew up a proposal to import a giraffe through an animal dealer based in Bihar. The plan was okayed by the government and the necessary funds were sanctioned. It was then that the animal dealer told zoo authorities that they would also have to bear the cost of transporting the animal by air to the country.

‘We would have needed lakhs of rupees more for that. So the plan was stalled. Even now if we can muster the money, we can have a giraffe at the zoo,” the zoo superintendent Sadasivan Pillai said.


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