By The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A giraffe that was born at the Calgary Zoo less than a week ago died on Friday night, the organization announced on Facebook.
In a post on Saturday, the zoo said a male calf born last Sunday to Emara, an eight-year-old Masai giraffe, passed away overnight.
“We knew when he was born so tiny that it would be an uphill battle, but had high hopes that the love of his Mama and round the clock care from our team would be enough to help him begin to thrive,” the post reads.
Emara had three previous pregnancies, but two ended in miscarriages and a third produced a calf that died due to birth defects.
This time around Emara received progesterone supplements — a treatment apparently not tried on a giraffe before. Progesterone supplements are commonly provided to women, as well as domestic animals, with a history of miscarriage.
“We are supporting Emara and our team through this devastating outcome. Please join us in remembering our littlest tower,” the post said.
The zoo posted that it will perform a post-mortem exam to determine the animal’s cause of death.
A spokeswoman for the zoo said Saturday that the facility would not answer questions about the death until later, explaining that staff need to “come to terms” with the loss.
The spokeswoman said results of the necropsy would be shared with the public.
Zookeeper Mona Keith said after the calf was born that he was a little smaller than expected, indicating he probably arrived at the early end of the 15-month gestation period.
Emara arrived at the Calgary Zoo in the summer of 2016 from the San Diego Zoo.
The mother and calf had been on display at the zoo’s African Savannah exhibit, and numerous people who visited the display this week responded to the sad news by posting pictures videos they’d shot of the giraffes together.
“Oh, I’m so sorry — this must be so tough on all the staff. We were all rooting for him,” said one of the posts.
The death occurred as the Calgary Zoo hosts a farewell party this weekend for two giant panda cubs.
Er Shun gave birth to cubs Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue in October 2015 at the Toronto Zoo. The trio, along with the cubs’ biological father Da Mao, were relocated to the Calgary Zoo in March 2018.
The pandas are on loan from China as part of a 10-year agreement between the two zoos and the Chinese government, but the cubs will board a flight to a breeding program facility in Chengdu sometime after Sunday.
Their parents will remain at the zoo until 2023.
The zoo has made headlines in the past due to animal deaths.
Last year, a peacock died after it flew into the windshield of a moving zoo golf cart, and the year before that another peacock flew into the zoo’s lion enclosure and was eaten during a pre-winter roundup. A few months earlier, a wild red fox that sneaked into the zoo killed another peacock.
In 2016, an otter drowned after getting tangled up in a pair of pants that were not meant to be in its enclosure. Also that year, seven Humboldt penguins drowned after the zoo said it appeared something frightened the birds overnight, causing them to suddenly jump into a pool.
In May 2008, about 40 stingrays in an interactive exhibit also died, while a giant capybara crushed by a hydraulic door in 2009 and a caribou calf died from complications related to sudden severe neck trauma in 2014.