TULSA - The Tulsa Zoo announced this morning that Samburu "Sam" the giraffe has passed away.
According to zoo staff, Sam's health had been declining over the past few months due to degenerative osteoarthritis.
"He has been under the close supervision of animal care and veterinary staff," Community Relations Coordinator Sarah Floyd said Sunday in a release.
Most recently, doctors found that Sam had fractured his right foot and was unable to stand and move comfortably. The source of fracture is unknown.
"Giraffe foot problems, as with horses, are difficult to treat and become serious very quickly due to the animal's size," Floyd continued. "Proper healing would likely not occur because of the constant pressure Sam would instinctively place on the injury."
Sam's weighed more than 2,500 pounds.
When animal care and veterinary staff realized his quality of life had diminished, the decision was made to euthanize Sam Saturday.
Sam just celebrated his 21st birthday last month, but lived much longer than the average male giraffe in human care, Floyd said.
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The Tulsa Zoo is home to two other giraffes, Lexi, who is 6 and Phil, 4.
Guest are encouraged to share their memories at the zoo's giraffe exhibit or at facebook.com/TulsaZoo