Masai Giraffe


Mourning the Loss of a Beloved Zoo Resident

May 29, 2023 | 3 minute read

29 MAY 2023 (Calgary, AB) – The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo announced today that the recent death of its female Masai giraffe, ‘Emara’, was a tragic accident.

“Our entire zoo family is still mourning this sudden and tragic loss,” said Colleen Baird, Interim Associate Director, Animal Care & Welfare at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “From the staff and volunteers who loved and cared for her to the visitors she inspired each visit, Emara will be missed by all.”

The zoo’s Animal Care, Health & Welfare staff found the 12-year-old Masai giraffe unresponsive against the fence in the African Savannah Yard early morning on Friday, May 19, 2023. A complete necropsy was conducted and revealed that Emara died quickly due to a broken neck – a small comfort for the staff and volunteers that loved and cared for her to know she did not suffer.

This event occurred very early in the morning before any staff were present to witness what happened. Evidence shows that Emara caught one of her ossicones (horns) on a cable surrounding the African Savannah Yard. This likely led to a fall against the fence and the associated broken neck. Although Emara’s death appears to be an isolated accident, the zoo is evaluating the African Savannah Yard fencing to determine if any modifications should be made to improve the safety for the animals that reside there. In addition to the zoo’s giraffe tower, this habitat is currently home to the zoo’s Hartmann’s Mountain zebra herd, ostriches, and African grey crowned cranes.

“At 12 years old, Emara was in the prime of her life and had been in excellent health prior to this, so her unexpected departure is being felt deeply by all of us,” said Dr. Doug Whiteside, Interim Associate Director, Animal Health & Welfare at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “The health and well-being of all the animals in our care is our top priority. Major life changes such as this not only affect our people but can affect our animal residents as well. We are closely monitoring the zoo’s remaining giraffes, ‘Nabo’ and ‘Moshi’, and so far they are doing well.”

The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo is among the world-class zoos and aquariums that have achieved the rigorous accreditation standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) governing zoo operations and they have maintained this AZA accreditation since 1978. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has been notified of the accident.

Emara came to the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo in 2016 from the San Diego Zoo in California, USA and was a treasured member of the zoo’s tower ever since. She was known for her cautious yet curious personality and her gentle nature. This sudden and tragic loss will be felt by many, especially Emara’s dedicated caregivers. The zoo asks the public to keep the staff in their thoughts as they continue to mourn this difficult loss. Grief counselors are being made available to zoo staff. Members of the zoo’s online community were encouraged to share their fond memories of Emara and their well wishes for the staff on the zoo’s social media channels.

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For more information contact: 
Alison Archambault
Director, Brand & Engagement
(403) 232-7766 | (403) 919-9482 |