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Bright's Zoo: Necropsy shows baby giraffe died of virus

August 22nd, 2014 2:50 pm by Max Hrenda

Bright's Zoo: Necropsy shows baby giraffe died of virus

Patch, the 13-day-old reticulated giraffe, that died on Wednesday. (Contributed/Bright's Zoo)

A baby giraffe born at Bright's Zoo two weeks ago died of a virus that did not show up in initial blood tests, results from a necropsy showed, the zoo's director reported today.

"They have found that he was infected with a type of virus that no matter what we would have done, we wouldn't have been able to prevent his death," David Bright said in a text message to the Johnson City Press.

Bright said the zoo's staff was still waiting on the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville to answer more questions about Patch's death. He later reported that Patch was nursing normally and his body condition was good for a giraffe that age.

"The cause of death was an infection throughout his entire body that was not detected in the original bloodwork," Bright said in another text message. "One question we have been asking ourselves is if we had chosen to bottle raise could we have prevented this? We asked this question to the vet staff and was told it would not have made a difference.

"We truly want to thank the entire community for the support we have received. We truly know that so many of you have been on this emotional roller coaster with us and for that we are beyond grateful."

Patch died Wednesday evening, 13 days after he was born to Valerie, a 6-year-old reticulated giraffe at the zoo, located at 3425 U.S. Highway 11E.

Earlier Wednesday, the giraffe had exhibited no signs of any illness or injury, though he did spend an unusually long time inside the giraffe barn.

“Our thought process was he was being pretty smart; he was hanging out in the barn to stay cool,” Bright said Thursday. “We went to the barn to check on him, and he was alert. At 5 o’clock, everything was fine.”

Two hours later, however, when Bright and zookeepers were performing their evening checks, they noticed something was wrong with the baby, mainly his body temperature.

Zoo staff then contacted two emergency veterinarians — Johnson City-based Mountain Empire Animal Hospital and the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville. For the next 40 minutes, zoo staff tended to the giraffe with liquids and warming blankets as emergency veterinarians from Mountain Empire made their way to the zoo.

At around the time those vets arrived at the zoo, however, the giraffe had died. Despite the close proximity of the vets’ arrival and the giraffe’s death, Bright said he was told the result would have remained the same.

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