Nashville, Tenn. (TN Tribune)- Nashville Zoo staff are mourning the loss of Rowan (far right in the photo above), a 3-year-old male Masai giraffe, who died Thursday due to complications from a leg injury.

“Rowan represented a bright future for our giraffe collection,” said Nashville Zoo President and CEO Rick Schwartz. “He had a lot of energy and we had hopes that he would sire calves and expand our giraffe herd. Everyone here at the Zoo, especially our dedicated hoofstock keepers who have cared for him, is saddened to lose such a wonderful animal.” 

Rowan injured his right rear leg about three weeks ago while he was in his outdoor habitat.

Although keepers did not see the incident, they immediately noticed Rowan favoring his injured leg. The young male was immediately brought into his indoor living space for stall rest and to be examined by the Zoo’s veterinary team.

Various treatments were given over the course of several weeks until a decision was made to sedate Rowan in order to closely examine his leg. The veterinary team discovered bone fractures and made the difficult decision to euthanize the giraffe. 

“Rowan received outstanding care which is what we would do for all of our animals,” said Dr. Heather Schwartz, Director of Veterinary Services at the Zoo. “Sometimes their needs are beyond our abilities. Facing that is the hardest part of our job.”

Rowan was born in August of 2019 at The Wilds in Columbus, Ohio. He came to Nashville Zoo in October of 2021 to be the sole male to the Zoo’s existing herd of four females.

Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) are one of nine subspecies of giraffe known for their oak-leaved-shaped spot pattern. They are native to the savannas of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. The wild population has seen a 40% decline since 1985 due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and illegal hunting. Nashville Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Giraffe Species Survival Plan® that contributes to the genetic preservation of the species across the nation.

Anyone wishing to honor Rowan is encouraged to contribute to the Zoo’s conservation efforts here.