Giraffe at Des Moines zoo dies

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A Des Moines zoo was forced to euthanize a giraffe who was suffering from ligament and joint problems.

Blank Park Zoo said goodbye to 21-year-old Shani, who had been at the Iowa zoo since 1996, according to the Des Moines Register. She lived there among three other giraffes after she was transported from her birthplace in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“It’s just part of aging for any animal, said the zoo’s animal curator Chad Comer, the Register reported. “It was happy for us because we knew she was in pain and showed signs that it was just going to get worse for her.”

Staff at the zoo held a private memorial for the animal. It gave employees who worked with her a chance to say goodbye. Comer said she was a very sweet animal.

“[Shani] was such an intelligent animal, always willing to train with her keepers and vet staff,” the Register reported animal keeper Nikki Shemanski said in a release. “She also had a knack for getting treats from keepers and guests in the barn – she knew if she begged with her chin on the mesh of her stall that no one could resist that face… she will be greatly missed.”

Officials at the zoo said they expected to bring in a new giraffe in the future.