Kansas City Zoo mourning loss of giraffe and gorilla this week

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Zoo announced Tuesday that two animals have passed away this week.

“We are mourning the heartbreaking deaths of Dixie, a Masai giraffe and Radi, a western lowland gorilla, the zoo announced Tuesday afternoon.

The zoo said Dixie’s animal care team discovered she had unexpectedly died on July 11 while in their giraffe herd’s outdoor habitat in the Africa Plains exhibit. A necropsy has been performed, but the full results from testing could take up to six weeks or more. Preliminary results show that her death likely stemmed from rumenitis, an inflammation in her stomach, for which she had been receiving treatment.

“Dixie was born at the Kansas City Zoo in February 2018 to mom Lizzie and immediately won the hearts of many with her unusually fluffy ossicones,” the zoo said. “Later that year, Dixie gained international fame when a GIF of her went viral on social media.

Her caregivers say Dixie was special and a bit of a diva who loved to be the center of attention,
was eager to learn, and an excellent older sister. She was also the self-appointed groomer of the rest of the herd’s ossicones and manes.

“Radi, the patriarch of our gorilla troop and one of the Zoo’s most recognizable animals, died July 13,” the zoo said. “Radi was a favorite of zoo guests and led a group of three adult females along with his only offspring, 5-year-old daughter Masika.”

The 37-year-old gorilla had resided in the West Africa section of the zoo since Africa’s opening in 1995.

“Radi was extremely smart and one of the first great apes in the country trained to participate in his own routine cardiac ultrasound assessments,” the zoo said.

According to his zookeepers, while Radi could bluff charge with the best of them and startle guests and staff alike.

“He was a kind father and an amazing leader. Despite greatly outweighing his daughter, he was a kind and gentle dad, putting up with whatever mischief Masika might be making. Whether she was pulling his hair or stealing his food, it seemed Masika could do no wrong in her father’s eyes,” the zoo said.

Earlier this spring, Radi began to exhibit symptoms of a serious illness that caused him to lose weight. After extensive testing and treatment, it was determined that he had Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease.

The zoo said staff worked tirelessly, doing all they could to achieve the best possible outcome but after initial improvement, Radi’s health began to decline again and he was no longer responding to treatment.  Radi was humanely euthanized late Monday.

According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the median life expectancy for a male western lowland gorilla is 32.7 years.

The zoo said both animals will be greatly missed.

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