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Farewell to Mukulu
Melbourne Zoo today (Wednesday, 7 November) bid a tremendously sad farewell to iconic Mukulu, the oldest male Rothschild’s Giraffe in the Australasian Region.
Born in 1995 at Perth Zoo, Mukulu lived at Melbourne Zoo since December 1996.
Mukulu’s health has been slowly deteriorating in recent years and Zoo Keepers have been monitoring him closely for some time as he has shown weight loss due to suspected worn teeth due to his advanced age. Anaesthesia to confirm this was judged too risky in Mukulu due to both his age and reduced strength. Therefore, keepers and vets have been supporting him for many months with a modified diet and tracking his welfare.
Carnivores Life Sciences Manager Justin Valentine said Mukulu was well known for his gentle nature and for being calm and cooperative.
Mukulu lived with his mate Twiga since she arrived at Melbourne Zoo from Holland in 1997. Together they were an incredibly successful breeding pair, producing four calves.
He was a great, great grandfather to ten, all of which have been transferred to other zoos to significantly contribute to the region’s cooperative breeding program.
An icon of Melbourne Zoo, Mukulu was famously known around the world for the photo of his mother ‘kissing’ his head as he sat at her feet.
Melbourne Zoo’s Head Veterinarian Dr Michael Lynch said the vet and keeper teams have been closely monitoring assessing Mukulu’s quality of life and until recently have been satisfied that this was good despite his very advanced age.
However, over the last few weeks this had started to decline with Mukulu showing gastrointestinal upsets and variable appetite.
“The decision to say goodbye to Mukulu today was decided after he showed a further decline in appetite over the last two days,” said Dr Lynch.
Vets will perform a post mortem examination to fully determine Mukulu’s health issues.
Zoo Director Kevin Tanner said both regular visitors and Zoo Members will also greatly feel the absence of Mukulu.
“Veterinarians and the devoted keeper team have done a tremendous job keeping Mukulu active for his 23 years at Melbourne Zoo, and I thank the team for their dedication to Mukulu’s welfare and wellbeing,” said Mr Tanner.
“Mukulu was a wonderful ambassador for his wild cousins who, with only approximately 670 left in the wild, are very much under threat. He will be dearly missed.”