Zoo Miami Makes 'Painful Decision' to Euthanize 12-Year-Old Giraffe After Animal Fractures Foot

Zoo Miami is mourning the loss of their beloved 12-year-old male giraffe named Pongo.

On Monday morning, zoo officials made "the difficult decision" to euthanize Pongo after he suffered a foot fracture that could not be treated, Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill said in a statement.

Pongo — who was born in February of 2009 at the Denver Zoo and arrived at Zoo Miami in November of the same year — had been experiencing increased pain in his left rear hoof due to a previous small fracture, Magill said.

In September, Pongo was immobilized in order for veterinarians, as well as experts from three different institutions, to perform X-rays, provide laser therapy and fit him with custom shoes.

"Against difficult odds, the immobilization was successful and the team was able to fit Pongo with custom shoes that did seem to alleviate the pain," Magill said.

But several weeks later, Pongo's shoes detached and he re-injured his hoof.

The zoo's animal health team performed a series of treatments on Pongo, but none were effective, Magill said. On Monday morning, zoo officials immobilized Pongo once again to perform additional detailed X-rays, which showed that the foot fracture was now untreatable.

Pongo was euthanized while he still under anesthesia, according to Magill, who called it a "painful decision."

After arriving at Zoo Miami in 2009, Pongo grew into the tallest giraffe of the herd and became a favorite among guests who fed him at the Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station.

"He will be terribly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and the privilege of working with him," Magill said.

Zoo Miami opened in 1980 and is the largest zoo in Florida and the fifth-largest in the United States. It is home to over 3,000 animals representing over 500 different species.

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