Famous Baby Giraffe Breaks Neck in Tragic Accident

Kipenzi broke her neck while 'scampering'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2015 9:02 AM CDT
Famous Baby Giraffe Breaks Neck in Tragic Accident
In this April 14, 2015 file photo provided by the Dallas Zoo, a calf and its mother stand in the maternity stall at the zoo, in Dallas.   (Cathy Burkey/Dallas Zoo via AP, File)

It's a bad week for animal lovers: First Cecil, then Nabire, now Kipenzi. The baby giraffe died in a "heartbreaking" accident at the Dallas Zoo last night. The zoo details what happened on Facebook: "As the giraffe herd was shifting inside for the night, Kipenzi began scampering around, as she loved to do. She made a sharp turn, and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. She broke three vertebra in her neck, and passed away immediately." The zoo notes that Kipenzi, whose name means "loved one" in Swahili, touched more than just those who visited the zoo. Her April birth was witnessed live by 1.4 million viewers via an Animal Planet special, and that fame was parlayed into awareness about giraffe conservation, with more than $35,000 raised for the cause.

The zoo doesn't hold back on the sad details or mince words: It noted that mother Katie visited Kipenzi before she was removed. "She stood guard for a few moments before we called her in," senior zoo director Harrison Edell tells the Dallas Morning News. "To be honest, it hurts terribly. We're crushed, and everyone here is mourning," says zoo president and CEO Gregg Hudson. Edell had this explainer for CNN: "Running is a typical behavior for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones like Kipenzi. We've been very cautious with where we've allowed Kipenzi to roam, as we were with her siblings. It's heartbreaking that this happened where it did despite our precautions." The zoo asks that those looking to donate in Kipenzi's memory support the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. (More giraffes stories.)

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