‘His legacy will live on’: Brevard Zoo announces passing of longtime resident giraffe ‘Rafiki’

MELBOURNE, Fla. — One of the Brevard Zoo’s original five giraffes was humanely euthanized Sunday due to age-related medical issues, the zoo announced Tuesday.


“Rafiki” was 25 years old, far exceeding the median lifespan of approximately 16 years for male giraffes in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Rafiki arrived at the zoo in 2003 as one of the first to be featured in their new Expedition Africa habitat.

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He was known for greeting his keepers each morning and following them around the habitat.

“His magnetic personality never wavered, bringing joy to our staff, volunteers and thousands of visiting guests for nearly 20 years,” Brevard Zoo Deputy Director Jon Brangan said. “He will be profoundly missed by our zoo family and our entire community.”

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According to a statement from the Zoo, Rafiki has made fewer public appearances in recent years due to arthritis and recently began losing his appetite after starting hospice care. When his condition worsened over this past weekend, the zoo’s veterinary team decided that euthanasia was the best choice for him.

A memorial area is available near the front entrance of the Zoo where guests with special memories of Rafiki can share them with the staff.

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He also leaves a legacy that will live on at the zoo in the form of his two-year-old son Mapenzi, who will become the zoo’s next male breeding giraffe.

In all, Rafiki has sired more than a dozen calves that reside at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums facilities, including a great-grandcalf.

“There is no doubt his legacy will live on, in his descendants, in our keepers, in our guests and volunteers, and in the amazing care we provide to all our animals,” Brevard Zoo Africa Platform keeper Alyssa Simon said. “He will be greatly missed.”

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