Hamilton Zoo bereaved as Giraffe Ndale dies


Ndale passed away after an accidental fall following a general check-up procedure (Image Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, February 2, 2024

Just a few days after the gender reveal of the two tiger cubs and all the celebrations that followed, The Hamilton Zoo team was left heartbroken as they said goodbye to Ndale, the 19-year-old giraffe on Thursday, February 1, 2024. Ndale passed away after an accidental fall that took place overnight, following a general check-up procedure undertaken the day prior.

The name Ndale means “prankster” in the Ngoni dialect of Malawi and was chosen because he was speedy and full of energy, soon after he was born in Auckland Zoo in August 2004. When he was born Ndale weighed 50kg and was 1.6 metres tall. He was walking within 20 minutes and running after 90 minutes.

Giraffes usually enjoy being surrounded by other giraffes, but they are happy to be around humans as well, and Ndale was certainly a favourite with many zoo keepers as he was “friendlier than most” and the team was left devastated by the sudden loss.

Hundreds of comments have been pouring in from Hamiltonians, who were saddened by the news, and heart-warming support has been shown for the zoo keepers from animal lovers across the country since the news broke out.

Ndale will be missed by the zoo team and visitors (Image Supplied)

Sorrowful event
On Wednesday 31 January 2024, Ndale was placed under anaesthesia to undertake several essential health procedures including dental treatment. Head Veterinarian Richard Sim said, “Ndale was a geriatric giraffe, trained to allow keepers to get blood samples. Based on an initial assessment from blood samples it showed he was in a good condition to undertake the procedure”.
“The Zoo team were really happy with how the procedure went and we were able to fix many concerns we had for his health. Anaesthesia in such a tall, big animal is never without risk, but he was moving around and acting normal by the end of the day.”

The zoo team said, “Unfortunately, at first check on Thursday morning, he was found on the ground unable to stand. The Zoo team responded quickly to support Ndale, make him more comfortable and were able to get him on his feet. With signs of weakness, he later collapsed, stopped breathing and passed away.”

Loved by all
Ndale has been a beloved part of the Hamilton Zoo family since he was one year old and will be dearly missed by all. This includes his herd members Masamba and Dume, the two remaining male giraffes at Hamilton Zoo.

Team Leader Eddie Cheadle said, “Ndale was many of the keepers’ favourite as he was such a chilled-out giraffe who was friendlier than most. We are in a bit of shock at his sudden departure and we will miss him a lot”.
“Ndale was the giraffe that was most comfortable with keepers at the zoo and holds a special place in many of our hearts. Whether through spending time training him for behaviours or simply enjoying small moments with him during the day, he has impacted many of us and will be sorely missed.”

One bad news after another

This incident comes merely two days after a four-week-old tiger cub was euthanised after sustaining a head injury from taking a tumble in its habitat at Auckland Zoo.

The Sumatran tiger cub was exploring its habitat on Saturday afternoon when the incident happened.

“It is hugely upsetting for everyone connected with the zoo, but nobody is more devastated today than our team of carnivore keepers who have been doing an incredible job supporting Zayana throughout her entire breeding journey,” said Auckland Zoo director, Kevin Buley.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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