Fort Wayne Children's Zoo Home

Caring for the Oldest Reticulated Giraffe in North America

Zuri the giraffe

As the oldest Reticulated Giraffe in North America, Zuri has seen it all! She has interacted with more guests than we could possibly count and has been a part of more memories than we could ever imagine. Her sweetness and adoration for lettuce has captured the hearts of many guests, but as this sweet giraffe grows older, Keeper Ty tells us what it’s like to care for an aging giraffe and the ways in which they monitor her well-being so that Zuri can continue creating memories with guests.






Born Dec. 6, 1988, Zuri is the matriarch of the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo giraffe tower. She is a natural leader and many in the tower will follow her lead. As one of the more outgoing girls of the tower, she loves to greet guests at the Giraffe Platform and enjoys being an ambassador for her species.



“Zuri has taught our Zoo team so much about animal care,” explains Keeper Ty, “As she gets older, we are working very closely with our Zoo Vet team to constantly look for new ways to improve her well-being and monitor her health.”

Because she is considered an elderly giraffe, Zuri receives special care and attention from her keepers, including:

Beauty Sleep:

“Zuri sleeps in her own special space,” continues Keeper Ty, “so that she can get as much rest as she needs without being awoken by the other giraffe.”

Physical Fitness:

“Being the tallest animal in the world at an advanced age can come with some challenges, therefore, we ensure that Zuri gets in ample movement throughout the day as a form of physical therapy, This extra movement keeps her strong and healthy. “To keep her movements more comfortable, she is also given a supplement to support her joints.”

Monitoring Her Health:

It’s not just Zuri’s Keepers that keep a special eye on her, the Zoo’s Vet Team also keeps an eye on this tall girl. “Zoo staff continually monitor Zuri’s health to ensure that she is feeling her best.” Shares Dr. Kami, the Zoo’s Veterinarian. “We check for a variety of behaviors, including: ease of movement, posture, activity levels, and eating habits.”

Just like you and me, a lot can be learned by examining Zuri’s diet and this allows her team to make sure that she is receiving all of the nutrients that she requires. “We know how much guests love to feed her lettuce up on Giraffe Platform!” Exclaims Keeper Ty, “Therefore, we keep an eye on her diet and also make sure that we’re keeping her teeth clean so she can continue eating all of the lettuce, sweet potato and apples that her heart desires.”


Written by Communications Intern, Peyton Hochhalter