TOPEKA, KS – (KSNT) Jesse, the 24-year-old male reticulated giraffe at the Topeka Zoo, was euthanized Wednesday morning.
Jesse suffered from Laminitis, a disease that causes tenderness and inflammation in the hooves. The condition had further limited his mobility over the last week and was causing increasing pain. Zoo Director Brendan Wiley says the decision to euthanize an animal is not an easy one. “We carefully consider all our options and ultimately do what is in the best interest of the animal,” Wiley said. “In Jesse’s case, we saw no opportunity for improvement and his condition was greatly affecting his quality of life.”
Jesse was a favorite of many zoo visitors. His size alone could have been intimidating to many, but he was a gentle soul.
“It was always fun to watch children get eye to eye with Jesse and squeal in delight as they fed him lettuce during the zoo’s giraffe feeding sessions,” Wiley said. “Not only did the children enjoy it, but Jesse did, too.”
During his time at the Topeka Zoo, Jesse fathered seven other giraffe and had one granddaughter born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
The zoo says his legacy will continue in Topeka through his daughter, Hope, who turned four years old on July 11, 2014. Hope has been paired with Sgt. Peppers who was transferred from the Oklahoma City Zoo to the Topeka Zoo in October 2013.
“This is a hard time,” Wiley said. “Jesse is special not only to the staff here, but to many people in our community as well. People grew up with him. We will miss him very much.”
Memorial donations can be made to the zoo’s Giraffe Conservation Fund, in care of the Topeka Zoo, 635 Gage Boulevard, Topeka, Kansas 66606.