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Giraffe at the Houston Zoo dies after "significant fall"

Mtembei an 8-year-old Masai giraffe.

KHOU via Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

HOUSTON -- A giraffe at the Houston Zoo was euthanized on Monday after a "significant fall," reported CBS affiliate KHOU.

Mtembei was an 8-year-old Masai giraffe and the father of the four youngest giraffe calves at the Houston Zoo. He was recognized by his dark coloration.

Zookeepers and the veterinary team said in a statement that they worked tirelessly to help the 1.5 ton giraffe to his feet after a significant fall. The giraffe team and veterinary staff also gave him pain medication, fluids, and supportive care to optimize his chances.

"When a giraffe is unable to stand, it is imperative to evaluate the animal and make every effort to get them back on his feet as quickly as possible," said Sharon Joseph, vice president of animal operations.

After hours of trying to save him, it was obvious that Mtembei couldn't stand and he was euthanized, the zoo said.

"The entire Houston Zoo team is mourning the sudden loss of this magnificent animal," said Joseph.

In May, KHOU reported on a giraffe at the Houston Zoo that died after a brief but aggressive illness.

Neema, an 8-year-old Masai giraffe, began showing signs of illness on May 14, 2015. She was treated for an intestinal disease that caused pain and infection and died in late May.

"Upon initial post-mortem review, we found that Neema had a complicated internal torsion, or 'twisted gut,'" stated Dr. Joseph Flanagan, chief veterinarian for the Houston Zoo. "This is, unfortunately, an extreme and incurable condition in giraffes."

Neema was "a beloved part of the 10-member herd, and a regular attendee at the popular giraffe feedings that so many zoo guests and members have enjoyed over the years," the zoo said in a statement at the time.