A beloved, endangered giraffe — with ‘important role’ at Florida zoo — dies at age 22

A beloved giraffe with an “important role” died at age 22, leaving a Florida zoo reeling.

“She was a gentle, intelligent giraffe with a larger-than-life personality,” Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens wrote Feb. 12 on Facebook. “Spock was an amazing ambassador for her species and our community.”

Spock, a reticulated giraffe, was born in 2001. During her time at the zoo, she became one of the longest giraffe residents and was known for showing love toward babies in her herd.

“Over the course of her life, she never had any offspring of her own,” the zoo wrote. “Despite this, she had an important role in the herd as the honorary auntie to 22 calves.”

But Spock’s time as an aunt figure came to an end as she lived out her “geriatric” years. The zoo said it made the tough decision to euthanize her after paying close attention to her care regimen.

“Her animal care team had been very closely monitoring her for age related issues including advanced arthritis,” the zoo wrote. “With the help of the veterinary team, Spock received a variety of treatments including oral and injectable medications, laser therapy and a private bedded stall to rest in overnight.”

Giraffes can live about 20 to 27 years in captivity, according to the Denver Zoo. Spock, who was 22 when she died, was a descendant of one of the Jacksonville zoo’s original giraffes.

“She inspired countless guests over the years who had the opportunity to meet her and learn about her wild counterparts,” the zoo wrote. “Her loss will be felt deeply by many.”

Spock’s species is native to parts of East Africa and is considered endangered, mainly due to habitat loss. Females can reach 14 to 16 feet tall, according to the Denver Zoo and St. Louis Zoo.

The Jacksonville zoo didn’t immediately share additional information about Spock with McClatchy News on Feb. 13.

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