Jacksonville, FL — The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the death of one of its most well-known and beloved animals, Duke its 21-year-old giraffe, on Tuesday morning.
According to the Jacksonville Zoo, Duke was born in 1997 and has been in Jacksonville since 2003.
The zoo said the giraffe keepers found Duke sitting in the barn and he was unable to get up. After keepers encouraged him to stand, and seeing that he was unable to do so, they made the decision to euthanize him.
The zoo said in a release that keepers and the animal's health team had been treating Duke for degenerative arthritis for the past couple of years.
”Unlike a person with extremely acute arthritis, an immobile giraffe is unable to utilize braces, canes or other mechanized assistance," said Dan Maloney, deputy zoo director. "Once a giraffe goes down, their prospects are bleak at best. Saying goodbye is always hard and understandably, staff are sad, but thankful his ordeal was brief."