HOUSTON – The Houston Zoo is mourning the loss of a 16-year-old giraffe. Kiva was a Masai giraffe that spent nearly his entire life at the Houston Zoo.
Kiva fathered 10 calves and five of them -- Hasani, Neema, Jack, Miles and Asali—are still residing at the zoo’s African Forest Exhibit.
"It didn’t matter if you were a guest or a Zoo employee, Kiva was everyone’s friend," said Houston Zoo Director Rick Barongi. "His captivating personality won over everyone he met. There is hardly anyone at the Zoo who does not treasure fond memories of interacting with Kiva, an experience that usually included feeding him."
Kiva was being treated for degenerative arthritis in his front hoof joints. He underwent a procedure late last year to fuse a hoof join with a wooden block.
"The block created a shoe for Kiva. It’s a process that has been done with horses and cows but, as far as we know not previously with a giraffe," said John Register, Houston Zoo hoofed stock supervisor. "The block lasted for six weeks and we did see some improvement in his condition."
Last week, the fusing procedure was repeated with Kiva’s right hoof joint and the hoof was trimmed.
"Follow up x-rays indicated his condition was not improving. He was in pain and he could not put weight on his front right leg. It was clear to the giraffe care team and his veterinarians that his quality of life was very poor with no prospect for improvement," said Register.
Following a consultation between the giraffe care team and the Zoo veterinary staff, Kiva was euthanized Thursday morning.