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Parker, a 6-year-old giraffe at Seneca Park Zoo, dies

 Parker, a male Masai giraffe at the Seneca Park Zoo, died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
Eric Caballaro
Provided by Seneca Park Zoo
Parker, a male Masai giraffe at the Seneca Park Zoo, died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

A 6-year-old male Masai giraffe died Sunday at the Seneca Park Zoo after being found caught in a support structure for the giraffe enclosure gate.

According to the zoo, staff entered the Animals of the Savanna Building on Sunday morning and found the giraffe caught and unresponsive. Veterinary staff were summoned immediately.

The giraffe, named Parker, came from the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2018.

In a statement, Superintendent Steve Lacy said the possibility of this happening was "unforeseen and unprecedented.”

He said the gate structure, which was installed in 2018, is "a standard giraffe enclosure feature" that's used in accredited zoos around the country.

Officials said they don't know of any other such incidents at other zoos, and they've notified the gate manufacturer about the potential hazard. They also are modifying the structure.

The zoo also notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums about the accident and is working with both agencies regarding the incident and on the modifications to the gate structure.

“Our hearts go out to the Seneca Park community and all the dedicated professionals at Seneca Park Zoo with the news of the death of their giraffe Parker,” said Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said in a staetment.

Parker was paired with female giraffes Kipenzi and Iggy and is father to Olmsted, born in April 2022.

“Parker will be sorely missed by all. He had been in excellent health prior to this and was a joy to both staff and visitors,” Seneca Park Zoo Veterinarian Chris McKinney said in a statement. “Our priority is the health and well-being of our animals and any major event can certainly affect them. So far, all three giraffes, Iggy, Kipenzie, and Olmsted, are doing well. We will continue to monitor them closely in the coming days.”