Initial autopsy finds giraffe may have choked to death

09/24/2018 08:05 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 24 (CNA) A male giraffe that was found dead in the privately run Wanpi World Safari Zoo in Tainan on Sunday may have choked to death, according to the initial findings of an autopsy performed by six veterinarians Monday.

The seven-year-old animal, named Hsiao Shun, was seen suddenly falling to the ground in its enclosure Sunday and was later pronounced dead.

A picture of the giraffe lying on the ground was posted Sunday on social media, with the person who took the photo writing that the giraffe fell to the ground suddenly and vomited before ending up motionless.

On Monday, two vets from the Taipei Zoo and three experts from National Taiwan University's Department of Veterinary Medicine traveled from Taipei to the Tainan zoo, where they performed the autopsy along with their counterpart at Wanpi World.

The specialists found vomit in Hsiao Shun's gullet, windpipe and lungs, suggesting that the four-meter-tall animal may have choked to death on food stuck in its windpipe, said Wanpi World deputy general manager Lee Ying-chun (李英俊).

He said previous checks of the giraffe had found Hsiao Shun healthy, and therefore its death was likely caused by a sudden problem such as choking while it was eating or ruminating.

The giraffe's long neck could be exposed to the fatal risk of acute shock if its windpipe has food in it while the animal is ruminating, Lee said.

He indicated, however, that further examinations need to be done before authorities can determine the exact cause of Hsiao Shun's death.

Hsiao Shun was born Jan. 18, 2012 as the sixth offspring of a giraffe couple -- Chu Chung and Chang Hsiao -- at Taipei Zoo. It was sent to Wanpi World to mate in 2013 under a giraffe conservation cooperation program with Taipei Zoo aimed at diversifying the genes of giraffes in captivity.

Hsiao Shun was a Somali giraffe, a subspecies of giraffe that normally has a life span of between 20 and 30 years.

(By Yang Sz-rui and Elizabeth Hsu)


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