New York zoo giraffe gets caught in enclosure gate and dies


Seneca Park Zoo grieves untimely loss of young Masai giraffe

Photo courtesy of Seneca Park Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Seneca Park Zoo.

Seneca Park Zoo (SPZ) has recently announced the tragic loss of Parker, the zoo’s 6-year-old male Masai giraffe. SPZ animal care staff entered the Animals of the Savanna Building Sunday morning and discovered that Parker was unresponsive, caught in a support structure for the giraffe enclosure gate. Veterinary staff were immediately brought to the scene.

“The possibility of this kind of event happening was unforeseen and unprecedented,” expressed zoo superintendent Steve Lacy, in an organizational release.1 “The gate structure, installed in 2018, is a standard giraffe enclosure feature and is used in a number of accredited zoos around the country.”

According to the release, there have been no other reports of this type of incident at other zoos with similar gate structures. The manufacturer along with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have been alerted of the potential hazard. SPZ is working with the organizations surrounding the incident and to modify the enclosure gate structure to prevent any chance of a reoccurrence.

“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,” stated Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in the release “They also have our confidence in their exceptional care of animals.”1

In 2018, Parker, known for his curiosity and playfulness, came to SPZ from the Santa Barbara Zoo. Parker was paired with females Kipenzi and Iggy, and is father to Olmsted, born in April 2022.

“This is a tragedy for the Seneca Park Zoo community,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “From the staff who cared for and loved Parker, to the Zoo guests and members who had their visits brightened by Parker’s presence, we are all grieving this tremendous loss.”

“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,” said Seneca Park Zoo veterinarian, Chris McKinney. “Our priority is the health and wellbeing 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.”1

The Animals of the Savanna Building was designed with the latest equipment for managing giraffes. It was closed to the public this past Sunday and will reopen this afternoon.

In the release, the zoo asked the public to keep the animal care staff in their thoughts as they handle this untimely loss. Grief counselors will be available to the staff this week. Those in the public who want to honor Parker’s life may do so by sharing their favorite pictures and memories of him on the zoo’s social media channels. The Zoo Society will also develop a Facebook fundraiser with all contributions going to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.


Seneca Park Zoo announces death of Masai giraffe. News release. Seneca Park Zoo. February 13, 2023. Accessed February 15, 2023.

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