Baby giraffe dies after running into edge of habitat, breaking neck at Dallas Zoo

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DALLAS — A baby giraffe at the Dallas Zoo died in a tragic accident Tuesday afternoon.

According to zoo officials, Kipenzi ran into the edge of the habitat and broke three vertebrae in her neck. She died instantly.

The zoo released the following statement:

“HEARTBROKEN: We are devastated to share the tragic loss of our beloved giraffe calf, Kipenzi. This evening as the giraffe herd was shifting inside for the night, Kipenzi began scampering around, as she loved to do. She made a sharp turn, and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. She broke three vertebra in her neck, and passed away immediately. Her mother, Katie, visited Kipenzi before veterinarians removed her.”

HEARTBROKEN: We are devastated to share the tragic loss of our beloved giraffe calf, Kipenzi. This evening as the giraffe herd was shifting inside for the night, Kipenzi began scampering around, as she loved to do. She made a sharp turn, and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. She broke three vertebra in her neck, and passed away immediately. Her mother, Katie, visited Kipenzi before veterinarians removed her. Our hearts are broken. Please keep the entire Dallas Zoo family in your thoughts. While she was only here for a few months, Kipenzi was a beacon of light for her species and for the millions who watched her birth live on Animal Planet. Her stardom brought attention to the plight of wild giraffes in Africa, helped raise more than $35,000 for giraffe conservation and sparked conversations about her incredibly majestic species. Kipenzi will always remain in our hearts, and while tears are flowing freely here tonight, we are eternally grateful for the millions of smiles she gave us all. Given the outpouring of love for Kipenzi since her birth, we encourage fans to post photos of Kipenzi or leave messages of support for staff on our Facebook and Instagram pages. For those interested in donating in Kipenzi’s memory, we recommend The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, our partner at the forefront of protecting giraffes in Africa. Visit www.giraffeconservation.org to make a donation.

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The giraffe is well-known because her birth was broadcast live on Animal Planet which helped raise $35,000 for giraffe conservation.

“This is a huge loss for our giraffe herd, our staff and our guests,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. “To be honest, it hurts terribly. We’re crushed, and everyone here is mourning. Please keep our staff in your thoughts.”

“Running is a typical behavior for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones like Kipenzi,” said Harrison Edell, the zoo’s senior director of living collections. “We’ve been very cautious with where we’ve allowed Kipenzi to roam. It’s heartbreaking that this happened where it did despite our precautions.”

The zoo posted the news on social media, and asked for anyone with photos of the giraffe calf to post them online.