One of the oldest living giraffes in captivity has been euthanized after dealing with a bout of health issues, Oakland Zoo officials announced Thursday.
Tiki — short for T'Keyah — was born at the East Bay Zoo back in 1989 and died at roughly the age of 95 in giraffe years, zoo officials said. Veterinarians made "the somber decision" to euthanize her because of her medical problems, which included ringbone arthritis that struck her feet, back and neck.
"T'Keyah was unique, everyone who met her fell in love with her instantly," Jessica Real, Senior Giraffe Keeper at the Oakland Zoo, said. "Through her patience and gentle presence, she was a great teacher to us all. She broke the barriers of what were standard practices in giraffe care. Articles were published in countries around the world, shedding new light on what was possible for giraffes in human care. She’ll be deeply missed."
Despite battling a number of health issues since the age of 14, Tiki, who is remembered for wearing a custom-made coat to keep her warm during the winter, "demonstrated that giraffes are smart, very much capable of learning, and practicing patience," according to the zoo.
She volunteered for hoof trimming and welcomed regular acupenture, chicopractic procedures, massages and other forms of medical practices during treatment.
Procedures performed on Tiki and her overall behavior would go on to be shared with the greater zoo community across the globe, which would, in turn, help in improving the quality of care for the species, according to the zoo.
Tiki gave birth to five calves during her time at the zoo, according to officials. Three still live at the zoo while two have been moved to other locations.
She also helped raise seven more calves that were part of her herd in Oakland.