The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is mourning the loss of Duke, its 21-year-old bull giraffe.
Duke had been treated for degenerative arthritis for the past couple of years.
A full exam will be conducted in part to study the progression of arthritis in mature giraffes.
Duke leaves behind 18-offspring, an accomplishment that made him a valuable contributor to the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative breeding program of accredited zoos.
Born in 1997, Duke had been at the Jacksonville Zoo since 2003.
“We were lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with such a special giraffe,” said Corey Neatrour, Mammal Supervisor who worked with Duke for the last 10 years. “If he had lived another 100 years, it would not have been enough time with him.”
Three of Duke’s offspring still reside at the Zoo: Figie, born in 2016, and Dixon and JoJo, born in late 2017.
His legacy will grow even larger this spring, when two more of his babies are expected to be born.