On Sunday, a one-year-old Masai giraffe named Asha, who had recently been transferred from the Santa Barbara Zoo to the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, was euthanized after suffering a severe leg injury.
Born in 2015 at the Santa Barbara Zoo, Asha was treasured for her valuable genetics in an attempt to sustain a genetically diverse population of giraffes throughout the country. Under its Species Survival Plan (SSP), the nonprofit Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended Asha be transferred to the Toledo Zoo to be a breeding mate for Trevor, a male Masai giraffe.
Reports state that Asha, who was being held in quarantine, was suddenly spooked while moving between stalls and suffered a fall that caused a compound spiral fracture in her back leg. Asha was immediately evaluated by an equine orthopedic surgeon, who hoped to heal her. But the doctor concluded that her injuries were too severe to be surgically repaired.
Director of the Toledo Zoo Jeff Sailor said Asha’s fall was in no way influenced by the flooring or any other aspect of the zoo’s facility. In an interview with Toledo’s The Blade, Sailor states, “This was an unfortunate, freak accident. For whatever reason, she startled and fell. These are often the most frustrating circumstances because there’s nothing you can change.”
Sheri Horiszny, SSP coordinator for the Masai giraffe and the Santa Barbara Zoo’s director of animal care, does not blame the Toledo Zoo or its staff. “It is a horrible accident. There’s no hard feelings at all,” she told The Blade. “She was very high-strung. Her personality was just very skittish and sensitive.”