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Cause of death determined for newborn giraffe at Niabi Zoo

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Pathologists have found that a lung disorder likely caused the death of a newborn female giraffe at the Niabi Zoo.

According to necropsy (animal autopsy) results, the giraffe born at the zoo in Coal Valley was most likely suffering from a lung disorder similar to Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome (NRDS). The syndrome is caused when the lungs are lacking a protective substance that helps lungs inflate with air and prevents them from collapsing.

Pathologists at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine performed the necropsy, and cannot fully confirm that the lung disorder was the cause, but all of their testing indicated similarities to NRDS.

The newborn giraffe died just hours after it was born at the Niabi Zoo on August 13, 2013. The giraffe’s mother, Mimi, had previously given birth to two healthy calves.

“We’re sad to have lost her,” said Zoo Director, Marc Heinzman. “The entire zoo staff welcomes the feeling of closure that comes with learning why she is gone.”

Heinzman said studies of wild giraffes have shown half of giraffe calves don’t live past six months of age.