One of the oldest giraffes in the US has been placed in hospice care

Jumbe, one of the oldest giraffes in the United States, has been placed in hospice care at Zoo Knoxville. (Source: WVLT)
Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 2:30 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - A 19-year-old giraffe at a zoo in Tennessee is under hospice care due to declining health.

Jumbe, one of the oldest giraffes in the United States, recently began exhibiting signs of pain with movement, according to Zoo Knoxville.

Officials with the zoo said the veterinary team and caretakers from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine are managing the giraffe’s pain with medication.

“We have a responsibility to our animals to make sure we provide them with the optimal quality of life from birth to death,” said Phil Colclough, director of animal care at Zoo Knoxville.

The zoo said Jumbe has had difficulty lying down to rest at night, which has prompted the transition to hospice care. The team said they are ensuring his comfort while monitoring his quality of life.

“With that responsibility comes days when we have to make difficult but compassionate decisions like this,” Colclough said.

Caretakers said the team would have to euthanize the giraffe when Jumbe’s medications are no longer managing his pain.

“We will carefully weigh all considerations to make the right decision at the right time,” Colclough said.

Jumbe came to the zoo in 2011 on the Giraffe Species Survival Plan recommendation to ensure a protected population of giraffes remains in human care as wild populations decline.

Jumbe’s offspring, a female born in 2019 and a male born in 2020, still reside at Zoo Knoxville.