PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Roger Williams Park Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its lifelong residents.
Jaffa, the zoo’s 13-year-old Masai giraffe, was humanely euthanized nearly five months after undergoing a risky hoof procedure.
Jenny Theuman, the zoo’s animal care manager, described Jaffa as “the very definition of tall, dark and handsome.”
“He captivated guests who were in awe of his grand stature,” Theuman said.
Jaffa, who was 18 feet tall and weighed 2,800 pounds, suffered from chronic hoof issues and underwent a corrective trim back in June. The complicated and high-risk procedure required the assistance of more than 45 animal care specialists, according to the zoo.
Jaffa had been recovering well from the initial hoof trim, the zoo said, but experienced a setback that required medical evaluation under anesthesia.
Veterinarians examined Jaffa’s hooves and determined that his two front feet were infected. He was treated with antibiotics and given custom-made shoes to wear throughout his recovery.
Jaffa continued to improve in the days that followed, until a devastating fall resulted in his inability to stand, according to the zoo. The decision was made to euthanize him due to the severe decline in his quality of life.
Theuman said Jaffa “embodied all of the best qualities of a giraffe.”
“Jaffa was stubborn and sweet, smart and aloof,” Theuman added. “He loved knotweed and mulberry; crackling oat bran was his favorite special treat.”
“Curious and expressive, keepers could often tell when Jaffa figured something new out,” she continued. “This same expressive face was periodically used to judge new staff, typically followed by a snort and flared nostrils.”
Jaffa, who was born at the zoo back in July 2010, spent his entire life in Providence. His mother Sukari died in September 2021 from old age and long-standing arthritis.
Theuman said Jaffa’s death marks the end of an era.
“The biggest boy left our world a little smaller,” she said.
The zoo is home to two other Masai giraffes, named Cora and Providence.