LUFKIN, Texas – A giraffe named Twiga who died over the weekend at an East Texas zoo at the age of 31 was among the oldest giraffes being cared for by humans.
Twiga was found dead Saturday morning at the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin, a city of about 34,000 about 170 miles (273 kilometers) southeast of Dallas, said the zoo's director, Gordon Henley.
Twiga would have turned 32 on Oct. 1. She was born at the Los Angeles Zoo. She then went to the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin before coming to the Ellen Trout Zoo in June 2008.
“She had provided company and companionship to our other giraffes as they came in and kind of guided them along," Henley said.
Twiga was a Masai giraffe. Henley said that their life expectancy is usually around 25 to 26 years.
Henley said Twiga had been showing some signs of age, and she occasionally walked with a bit of limp. But he said she had been getting “a lot of TLC from the keeper staff and from our veterinarian."
“We knew based on her age that it was probably not going to be much longer. But that doesn't make it any easier when it happens,” Henley said.
In 2017, a giraffe named Ursula died at the age of 32 the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. In 2021, a giraffe named Mutangi died at the age of 31 at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Australia.