Miami-Dade County

Beloved giraffe dies at Zoo Miami

A young boy feeds Fezzik, the 18-foot-tall, 2,263-pound giraffe, at Zoo Miami.
A young boy feeds Fezzik, the 18-foot-tall, 2,263-pound giraffe, at Zoo Miami. Zoo Miami

Fezzik, a Somali giraffe loved by zoo visitors for more than 15 years, died Friday at Zoo Miami.

In recent weeks, zoo keepers noticed 18-foot-tall Fezzik was having trouble walking on his front right leg. Matt James, a zoological supervisor at Zoo Miami, said Fezzik was having problems with his hoof because of joint instability.

The zoo’s veterinary team did a standing sedation in order to get close enough to the giraffe to examine him.

“We relaxed him to make him easier to work with,” James said.

Thirty minutes after the procedure began, Fezzik went into cardiac arrest. He died at approximately 11:30 a.m.

Fezzik was born at the St. Louis Zoo on May 17, 1997, and arrived at Zoo Miami on May 23, 1998. The 17-year-old shared his exhibit with six other giraffes — four males and two females — and fathered 16 calves during his time at Zoo Miami. He also had 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Only two of his calves remained at Zoo Miami. The rest are scattered throughout the United States, Costa Rica and Japan.

Zookeeper Nick Pottatz said the giraffes that share Fezzik’s exhibit miss him.

“They sniff around the last place they saw him,” he said. “The look for him, but not too much.”

The zoo’s veterinary staff was conducting the necropsy Friday night, and hoped to have a written report by Saturday morning.

Several animals have died at Zoo Miami in the last year. In early October, a silverback gorilla with a long history of heart disease died after undergoing medical tests. In mid-September, a diabetic rare king cheetah died. In late March, a lioness died while undergoing a procedure to examine body stiffness.