Staff at Zoo Miami are mourning the loss of a juvenile giraffe that had to be put down Tuesday after the 7-month-old got his head stuck in a fence. Wesley the giraffe poked his head into a 10-inch gap in a chain link fence on Tuesday, toward where another giraffe was having a routine exam, but panicked when he couldn't get it out again, zoo rep Ron Magill tells the Miami Herald. As Wesley tried to pull his head out, he lost his footing, causing serious injury to his neck. Zoo staff freed the giraffe's head in minutes, but Wesley couldn't stand, even with the help of a sling.
Zoo staff "tried for several hours with different types of medications, different types of supportive therapy," Magill tells CBS Miami. But "it became painfully obvious that he'd done a traumatic injury, probably to his spinal cord." "I've been here for 36 years; we've never had an incident like this," Magill adds. "It was just horrific." Staff have since blocked the hole in the fence and sealed similar openings elsewhere in the zoo so such an accident "won't happen again," Magill says. Similarly, a baby giraffe died at a California zoo in October after running into a metal wire barrier, per the Fresno Bee. (Read more Miami stories.)