Nashville Zoo's 3-year-old Masai giraffe dead due to complications from leg injury

Nashville Zoo giraffes
Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-16 18:10:17-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville Zoo staff announced the death of Rowan, a 3-year-old male Masai giraffe, on Thursday.

The gentle giant suffered a major injury to his rear right leg that ultimately led to his death.

"Rowan represented a bright future for our giraffe collection," said Nashville Zoo President and CEO Rick Schwartz. "He had a lot of energy and we had hopes that he would sire calves and expand our giraffe herd. Everyone here at the Zoo, especially our dedicated hoofstock keepers who have cared for him, is saddened to lose such a wonderful animal."

Rowan's injury happened about three weeks ago while he was in his outdoor habitat. Zookeepers did not see the incident, but they did immediately notice Rowan favoring his injured leg.

After he was brought into an indoor living space for stall rest and examination by the Zoo's veterinary team, Rowan was administered various treatments.

When no improvement was noticed, Rowan was sedated so that his leg could be closely examined. The veterinary team found bone fractures and made the difficult decision to euthanize him.

"Rowan received outstanding care which is what we would do for all of our animals," said Dr. Heather Schwartz, Director of Veterinary Services at the Zoo. "Sometimes their needs are beyond our abilities. Facing that is the hardest part of our job."

Rowan the Masai giraffe

Rowan was born in August of 2019 at The Wilds in Columbus, Ohio. He joined Nashville's herd of four female giraffes in October of 2021 as the sole male.

Masai giraffes have seen a 40% population decline since 1985 due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and illegal hunting.

The Nashville Zoo has stated that anyone wishing to honor Rowan's memory is encouraged to contribute to the Zoo's conservation efforts.