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Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Announces the Loss of Giraffe Jelani

Fort Wayne IN – The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo lost the patriarch and beloved giraffe, Jelani on August 6, 2022. The animal care and veterinary teams made a comprehensive assessment of his overall wellbeing and made the difficult decision to euthanize him on Saturday when it became clear he would not recover.

“Jelani was suffering from neurological abnormalities that quickly worsened over a short time. Although we were treating for any potential causes, his welfare became compromised and he was humanely euthanized, surrounded by many that cared for him,” said Head Zoo Vet, Dr. Kami Fox.

Jelani celebrated his 24th birthday this week on August 3. Jelani moved to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in May 1999 from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. He was an important member of our herd as he sired 6 calves and his offspring marked three generations of giraffe with ties to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.

Members of Jelani’s care team said, “He was a sweet gentle giant who actively participated in his own care. He was especially fond of hoof work and having his feet filed. He was easy to work with and always enjoyed attention. He was a huge part of our family here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.”

Jelani was loved by all, and his loss is felt deeply. We share this heartbreak with our animal care professionals, who cared for him daily. We thank them for their outstanding work, not only with Jelani, but with all the animals here at the Zoo. We appreciate the support of the community as we grieve his loss together.

About the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo: The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is northeast Indiana’s largest tourist attraction, hosting more than 600,000 guests annually. In 2021, the Zoo was voted Visit Indiana’s “Summer Bucket List Top Attraction” and is consistently named one of the nation’s Top Ten Zoos for Kids by national media outlets.

The Zoo is a conservation leader, contributing more than $360,000 annually to local, regional, and international efforts to protect wild animals and habitats. The Zoo cares for more than 1500 animals and participates in 63 cooperative species survival plans.

As a self-supporting facility, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo receives no tax dollars for operations. The Zoo’s operations are funded entirely by earned revenue and donations. Summer Zoo hours through August 14 are 9 am to 7 pm daily. August 15 through October 30, Fall Zoo hours are 9 am to 5 pm. Adult admission is $16, Seniors 62+ $14 and Children 2 to 18 $12. Family memberships are only $149 for a year of family fun including membership only perks. All details to plan your Zoo trip can be found on the Zoo’s website at