28-year-old giraffe 'Tiki' dies at Oakland Zoo

A well-known 28-year-old giraffe has died in captivity at the Oakland Zoo. 

Tiki, short for T'Keyah, was born at the Oakland Zoo in 1989. She was one of the oldest living giraffes in captivity, according to the Oakland Zoo. 

Veterinarians made the decision to euthanize Tiki due to a number of health concerns which included ringbone arthritis that impacted her feet, back and neck. The zoo said it was a somber decision but they also believed it was the most humane. 

Tiki was known as a nurturer in her herd and was both a mother and grandmother. She gave birth to five healthy calves over the years. The zoo says she has also helped raise seven calves who were not her own. 

“T'Keyah was unique, everyone who met her fell in love with her instantly. Through her patience and gentle presence, she was a great teacher to us all. She broke the barriers of what were standard practices in giraffe care. Articles were published in countries around the world, shedding new light on what was possible for giraffes in human care. She’ll be deeply missed,” said Jessica Real, Senior Giraffe Keeper at Oakland Zoo.

Tiki made headlines in 2008 when she needed protection from the cold in order to socialize with her herd-mates outside of her heated barn in the winter months. A special, custom made coat was made to keep her warm. 

A hashtag, #thanksTiki, was created and is being used on a giraffe zookeeper Facebook group to show how Tiki influenced giraffe training at other zoos.