Giraffe named ‘Willow’ dies at Maryland Zoo after short illness

A 6-year-old reticulated giraffe at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has died.

The giraffe, named Willow, had started to show a large decline in her appetite Friday. The zoo was treating her and keeping a close eye on her health, the zoo said in a news release.

A female reticulated giraffe named Willow at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has died at the age of six. (Courtesy Maryland Zoo)

Willow had looked stable, but all of a sudden, her health took a turn for the worst Monday, leading to her death.

The cause of death is unknown, but a complete post-mortem examination will be done to find what caused her sudden decline, the zoo said.

Willow was born at the zoo to her parents, Juma and Caesar, who still live in the Giraffe House.

The zoo said Willow was very popular with visitors, adding that it “is a tremendous loss.”

“Since her birth, Willow has inspired joy and compassion in thousands of people. She grew from an awkward calf with ossicones that looked like pigtails to a beautiful icon of the Zoo and her vulnerable species. Her presence at the Giraffe Feeding Station, in particular, is something everyone will miss,” the zoo said in the news release.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, giraffes like Willow are labeled as “vulnerable.” The organization said that the populations of this species are “scattered and fragmented with different growth trajectories and threats.”

Giraffes are negatively impacted mainly by habitat loss, degradation, and illegal hunting and poaching, the zoo said.

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Tadiwos Abedje

Tadi Abedje is a freelance digital writer/editor for WTOP. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Northern Virginia. Journalism has been his No. 1 passion since he was a kid and he is blessed to be around people, telling their stories and sharing them with the world.

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