The Denver Zoo made a sad announcement this week regarding one of their beloved animals.

On Friday (March 11) zookeepers made the difficult decision to euthanize Heshimu, the 19-year-old reticulated giraffe, after an acute change in her health left them with no other option. Zoo staff found Heshimu immobile in her indoor habitat on Friday morning. A team of keepers and veterinarians examined the large African mammal and determined her condition was unfortunately unrecoverable. The team was heartbroken to have to say goodbye to Heshi, who, besides her obvious size, had such a huge presence at the Denver Zoo.

According to the zoo, Heshi was born on September 12, 2002 at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. She was moved to her new home at the Denver Zoo on May 9, 2007. During her 14 years at the Denver Zoo, Heshi played an important role in wildlife education. Her personality was described as being sassy and independent, but also very loving.

Heshimu has two children, Cricket and Timber, who were both moved to other zoos after birth as part of the Species Survival Plan. Heshi was a great friend to other giraffes in her herd, including Denver Zoo's renowned Dobby.

The zoo's veterinary medicine team will perform a necropsy to find out more about what led to the giraffe's sudden decline.

Staff encourages zoo-goers to share their favorite Heshi moments and memories with them to pay tribute.

Animals of the Denver Zoo