The Santa Barbara Zoo is mourning the loss of 16-year-old Masai giraffe Audrey | Local news

Audrey the Masai giraffe spent most of her life at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo is saddened to announce that Audrey, an elderly female Masai giraffe who had lived in Santa Barbara almost her entire life, died overnight.

The zoo said Audrey appeared to be in good health until yesterday, when she showed vague signs that all was not well and keepers were monitoring her closely.

Although her death was unexpected, at the age of 16, Audrey was considered a geriatric giraffe.

Details regarding the cause of death are unknown at this time; however, the zoo said more information would be available in the coming weeks once an autopsy was performed on the animal and a pathology report was received.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Audrey’s death,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, vice president of animal care and health at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

“Audrey was not only a wonderful person at the Santa Barbara Zoo; “She was a caring and devoted mother to her calves, a mentor to younger members of the herd, and an excellent ambassador for her endangered wild counterparts,” Dr. Barnes said.

“In addition, Audrey’s contribution to the Masai giraffe population has been invaluable in helping ensure the genetic health and sustainability of this endangered species,” she said.

“Audrey will be greatly missed and grateful for the joy and delight she brought to all who had the privilege of knowing her,” she said.

Audrey was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in 2008 and came to the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2010 to breed with Michae, who died in 2023.

As a herd mother at the Santa Barbara Zoo, Audrey had a total of seven calves and four live calves with Michael. These four each had calves of their own, resulting in seven grandchildren in zoos across the country.

As the female chosen to breed alongside Michael, who was the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) population, Audrey made a significant contribution to the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan.

She will be greatly missed by all members of the zoo community. The zoo said it would like to thank the donors, especially Ginni Dreier, Audrey’s most important foster feeder, as well as all the keepers and veterinary staff who devoted so much care, time and effort over the years to ensure Audrey had a long and healthy life.

The Masai giraffe herd at the Santa Barbara Zoo currently has four members: Adia, Theo, Raymie and Malia, who was born in November 2023.

The giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo are among the more than 120 Masai giraffes living in 28 AZA-accredited North American zoos.