Giraffe dies after getting neck caught in enclosure at Zoo Atlanta

ATLANTA — An 8-year-old giraffe died unexpectedly Monday at Zoo Atlanta after getting part of its neck stuck in a metal railing.

The zoo announced the death Tuesday morning, saying Zuberi was in the behind-the-scenes giraffe complex when the accident happened. Workers were in the enclosure with him caring for another giraffe when it happened.

"They saw some unusual movement in Zuberi's area and saw that he had a portion of his neck in a very small space in the metal railing," Dr. Jennifer Mickelberg said.

Officials said the animal care team responded immediately, but Zuberi died shortly after.

The zoo said in its statement that Zuberi and the other giraffes are very familiar with that area and that safety checks on all animal areas are a part of their regular daily procedures.

"It’s an area he’s really comfortable in. Really, this is just a highly unusual incident. There’s really nothing unusual that would have occurred that would have led up to something unusual happening," Mickelberg said.


The zoo said the other giraffes in the herd are behaving normally following Zuberi’s death, and they do not have access to the area where the incident occurred. 

Zoo officials said they are “thoroughly reviewing the entirety of the areas used by the giraffes.”

“The Zoo Atlanta family, and especially those animal care team members who are with the giraffes daily, are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic and unexpected loss. Zuberi showed no signs of injury, illness or distress in the moments prior to this event,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Vice President of Animal Divisions. “Our Animal Care and Veterinary Teams responded to the emergency right away, but despite their immediate and heroic efforts, were not able to save Zuberi.” 

The official cause of death will not be known until a necropsy is completed.