KNOXVILLE, TN (WVLT/Gray News) - Zoo Knoxville announced Thursday that Patches, the oldest giraffe in America, has died. She was 31.
She was humanely euthanized due to poor health brought on by her age.
“Over her lifetime, Patches was an iconic ambassador. She made it possible for millions of visitors who will never have the opportunity to travel to Africa to experience the beauty and gracefulness of her species,” said Lisa New, Zoo Knoxville President and CEO. "We will always be grateful to her for inspiring our community to care about the future of giraffes and to support the work we are doing to save them."
The giraffe had been on medication since she began displaying signs of stiffness, and radiographs confirmed a diagnosis of arthritis. Her symptoms became more acute over the last few months, and in recent weeks her physical health began to show a notable decline.
Her caretakers, in conjunction with the veterinary team from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, determined her quality of life had reached a turning point and reached the decision to humanely euthanize her.
Zoo Knoxville said the average age for giraffes is 25 years. Experts said her longevity can be attributed to the excellent care she received from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine during her years at the zoo.
Patches had eight children in over the course of her life. Her last daughter, Lucille, lives at Zoo Knoxville.