RIP Kiva, the Houston Zoo's Longtime Giraffe

For 15 years visitors to the Houston Zoo have been entertained by Kiva, a Masai giraffe. Now he's gone to that great Serengeti in the sky.

He was euthanized this morning after zoo staff and vets decided painful degenerating arthritis in his front hoof joints could not be fixed.

"Follow-up X-rays indicated his condition was not improving. He was in pain and he could not put weight on his front right leg. It was clear to the giraffe care team and his veterinarians that his quality of life was very poor with no prospect for improvement," said the zoo's John Register.

"His captivating personality won over everyone he met. There is hardly anyone at the zoo who does not treasure fond memories of interacting with Kiva, an experience that usually included feeding him," said Houston Zoo director Rick Barongi.

The zoo went so far as to try a special shoe for the giraffe to improve his pain, but it didn't work.

His legacy lives on, though:

In his 15 years at the Zoo, Kiva made many friends among staff and guests alike. Kiva fathered ten calves, five of which are part of the Zoo's giraffe family at the McGovern Giraffe Exhibit in The African Forest, Hasani, Neema, Jack, Miles and Asali.

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