The San Francisco Zoo is mourning the passing of Floyd, the zoo's regal and rather striking male reticulated giraffe. The very popular giraffe was 18 years old when he died Friday.
"Floyd was truly one of our most beloved animals and a favorite among our guests because he was so recognizable and engaging," said Tanya M. Peterson, chief executive officer and executive director of the San Francisco Zoological Society. "We are heartbroken, but know that he has touched so many during his life, and contributed greatly to the population of reticulated giraffes in North America."
Floyd was born in 2002 at the Albuquerque Zoo and transferred to the San Francisco Zoo in 2004. During his life, he sired 11 offspring, and had 24 grandkids and five great-grandkids.
With one female offspring still residing at the Zoo, others of Floyd's progeny can be found all over the country, from California, Oregon to Tennessee and Alabama.
The reticulated giraffe, one of the more commonly seen giraffe species and subspecies found in zoological parks, is classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with populations in the species' native range -- northeastern Kenya, southern Ethiopia, and Somalia -- having declined by 50 percent due to heightened poaching. Floyd served as an important ambassador for his species, helping to educate the public about the need for giraffe conservation.
"In addition to being an incredible ambassador, our scientific research teams have been able to observe Floyd over the past several years, and he has been a principal subject for visiting science students," said Dr. Jason Watters, the zoo's executive vice president for wellness and animal behavior. "We are grateful for having the opportunity to work with this remarkable animal and learn so much from him.
At 18, Floyd was considered aged for a male giraffe, and like many geriatric animals, he was experiencing degeneration in his joints. The zoo's integrated animal care and wellness teams worked tirelessly over the past several months to provide Floyd with the comfort that is the aim for all of the zoo's animals, with particular focus on senior ones. As the tallest and oldest giraffe in the zoo's herd -- at 18-feet-tall and weighing more than 2,425 pounds -- his imposing size yet serene demeanor and independent spirit will be missed by zoo staff and zoo visitors.