“It is with great sadness that Roger Williams Park Zoo announces the death of Amber, the cherished 26-year-old Masai giraffe,” the zoo noted in a press release Tuesday afternoon, adding that the median life expectancy for a giraffe in captivity is about 17 years.
The zoo said Amber lost her sight due to cataracts during the last year and that her health began to decline during the last few weeks.
“Roger Williams Park Zoo could find no other facility that has managed a blind giraffe to ask for advice so a care plan was developed through intuition and trial and error,” the zoo noted. “Thanks to a lot of hard work and a trusting relationship built over many years, the animal care staff was able to help Amber adjust to her blindness, and maintain a good quality of life for an extended period at the Zoo.”
Based on her deteriorating health, the veterinary and animal care staff thought it was time to end her suffering and they decided to “euthanize her humanely,” as Amber was unable to properly move in her exhibit.
“Everyone at the Zoo will miss Amber and her sweet demeanor,” the release noted. “Amber was born August 8, 1991 in Cleveland. She joined the Zoo family in May 1992. For many years, Amber was a favorite with guests who enjoyed feeding the giraffes.”
Zoo officials encouraged Amber’s fans to share photos and thoughts on the zoo’s Facebook page or visit the Textron Elephant and Giraffe Pavilion to write their memories on a board set up in Amber’s honor.