Mary, 24, matriarch of giraffe herd at Maryland Zoo, is euthanized

  • Mary, the 24-year-old matriarch of the Maryland Zoo's giraffe herd, was euthanized following a three-year bout with arthritis.
Mary, the 24-year-old matriarch of the Maryland Zoo's… (Photo courtesy of the Maryland…)
December 07, 2010|By Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun

Mary, the 24-year-old matriarch of the Maryland Zoo's giraffe herd, was euthanized Tuesday following a three-year bout with arthritis.

"About two and a half years ago, she started showing signs of arthritis," zoo spokeswoman Jane Ballentine said. "The staff worked to manage her pain, keep her comfortable. But a few weeks ago, she seemed to become more uncomfortable, shifting her weight from leg to leg.

"Her condition progressed very rapidly," she added. "As the days went on, they realized the treatments they were using just really weren't working for Mary."

A reticulated giraffe, Mary was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colo., and arrived in Baltimore as a 10-month-old in 1987. In her 23 years in Charm City, she grew to be 16 feet tall and weigh about 1,600 pounds. Captive giraffes generally live 24 to 25 years, Ballentine said.

"It is a sad day," said Kevin Murphy, the zoo's assistant curator. "In a living collection, animals get sick, animals die, animals must be euthanized. But that doesn't make it any less sad."

Mary is survived by two daughters, Zoe, 15, and Angel, 13. A third giraffe, 4-year-old Caesar, also lives at the zoo.

The past month has been tough for the zoo's long-term population. On Thanksgiving Day, Paco, a 50-year-old blue-and-gold macaw that had been part of the zoo's traveling Animal Ambassadors program, died after surgery to remove an obstruction from his throat.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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