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'Freak Accident' Ends Young Giraffe's Life At Zoo Miami

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- One of Zoo Miami's very own has passed away following what they are calling a freak accident.

A young male giraffe named "Wesley," born last May at the zoo, had to be euthanized on Tuesday after he had lodged his head between two posts.

"He lowered his neck and wedged his head and panicked and as he panicked, he pulled his neck and obviously caused some traumatic injury to his spinal cord and neck," said Ron Magill of Zoo Miami told CBS4's Ted Scouten.

Wesley 1
Wesley (Courtesy: Ron Magill/ Zoo Miami)

It all happened while another giraffe was undergoing a procedure. Wesley had returned to the holding area and apparently tried to see what was happening to the giraffe.

The staff was able to dislodge him within a few minutes, officials said, but by that time, it was too late to prevent significant damage.

"They tried for several hours with different types of medications, different types of supportive therapy, but it was a consistent and dramatic decline and eventually a very difficult decision had to be made to euthanize him," said Magill.

The injury prevented him from being able to stand and maintain equilibrium.

If a giraffe can't stand up, it can't survive, Magill told Scouten.

"He was falling over. They went as far as to use a sling to try to get him up to support him with a sling to maintain his weight and it got progressively worse. It was just horrific," said Magill.

A necropsy will be performed Wednesday to find out the extent of the injury.

Wesley was the 48th giraffe born at the zoo. As for the accident, it's the first of its kind in the zoo's history.

Zoo staff said they are making modifications around the zoo to prevent an accident like this from happening again.

"Since then, we had a welder come out. We've closed every possible gap.  We've blanketed the entire zoo to make sure something like that cannot happen in a similar way," said Magill.

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