Baby giraffe Julius dies at Maryland Zoo, officials say

Julius, the baby giraffe, is shown with an official from The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Friday, July 14, 2017.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore/Facebook

Last Updated Jul 15, 2017 10:37 PM EDT

BALTIMORE -- The Maryland Zoo has announced the death of baby giraffe Julius, who has been fighting for his life since birth, CBS Baltimore reports.

"It's hard to put our emotions into words right now," Don Hutchinson, the zoo's president and CEO, said in a statement. 

He added, "Our veterinary staff and our animal care team put their lives on hold to try and nurse Julius back to health, and every avenue was explored. Sadly, he was unable to survive in spite of their herculean efforts."


Julius the baby giraffe with his mother, Kesi, on July 9, 2017.

CBS Baltimore/Maryland Zoo

Julius was born to first-time mother Kesi on June 15, but he was not able to learn to nurse effectively and had insufficient antibodies to protect him from disease.

To boost his immune system, he was given two transfusions of giraffe plasma, one from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and another from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

Julius was receiving a life supporting solution called total parenteral nutrition through an IV thanks to the development and donation of solutions from Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital.

Dr. Samantha Sander, an associate veterinarian at the zoo, says his condition took a sharp turn downward overnight, prompting a decision to euthanize the calf.

"This is certainly not the outcome we were hoping for, but we rest assured that we did everything we possibly could medically to prevent him from any distress," Sander said in a statement.

She added, "A necropsy will be done to try and determine what put Julius at this health deficit from the beginning."

JULIUS UPDATE: It’s hard to even write the words. Julius is gone. After weeks of effort, intensive medical treatments...

Posted by The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Saturday, July 15, 2017

On Facebook, the zoo said they created a website to remember the baby giraffe.

"Julius impacted a large following of fans who wanted, like us, to see him thrive. The Zoo has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, concern and prayers for him," officials said on Saturday. "We simply can't explain the positive impact your support has had on the team working day and night with him."