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Hogle Zoo mourns loss of 18-year-old giraffe

Riley the Giraffe.jpg
Posted at 1:37 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 15:45:29-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo is mourning the loss of a family member on Christmas Eve after announcing a popular giraffe has died.

Riley, an 18-year-old reticulated giraffe, was the senior member of the zoo's giraffes, but had been suffering with some "age-related challenges" over the past few months. On Thursday, staff noticed that Riley was unable to stand on his own.

Riley the Giraffe
Riley the giraffe died Thursday

Even with the help of the Salt Lake City Fire Department and Wagstaff Crane Service, zoo staff were unable to get Riley to stand on his own.

"Hogle Zoo staff, and our partners who showed up immediately to assist with this giraffe emergency, did everything possible to help Riley but his condition was too advanced," said Dr. Erika Crook, Director of Animal Health.

Officials say Riley's condition worsened as the day went on, and he died hours later.

“Riley was truly a giant; without a doubt, the first animal to stand out amongst others as guests first enter the zoo. He touched the hearts of many as a tall and dignified ambassador especially during our giraffe feeds,” said Associate Director of Animal Care, Bob Cisneros.

Riley arrived at the zoo in June 2005 and sired six giraffe calves.