‘Will be profoundly missed:’ Rafiki, 25-year-old Brevard Zoo giraffe dies

Rafiki was 1 of 5 original giraffes at the zoo

Rafiki (Brevard Zoo)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – One of the original giraffes to be on habitat when Expedition Africa opened at the Brevard Zoo in 2003 has died, according to a news release.

Rafiki had to be euthanized on Sunday “following ongoing age-related medical issues,” zoo officials said.

The 25-year-old animal was known for his “larger than a giraffe,” personality, according to the release.

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“Rafiki was the first animal to arrive at the Zoo for Africa, and he walked off the trailer ready to make his mark capturing the hearts of everyone he came across,” said Jon Brangan, deputy director of Brevard Zoo. “His magnetic personality never wavered, bringing joy to our staff, volunteers and thousands of visiting guests for nearly 20 years. He will be profoundly missed by our Zoo family and our entire community.”

Rafiki enjoys a treat on his 25th birthday (Brevard Zoo)

Zoo officials said Rafiki’s age was exceptional for a male giraffe, whose median lifespan is about 15.9 years old in Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facilities.

According to the release, Rafiki’s condition and quality of life worsened over the weekend and the zoo’s veterinary and animal care team decided that euthanasia was the most compassionate choice for him.

Rafiki was surrounded by some of the keepers who have cared for him and loved him over the years, officials said.

His legacy will live on in Brevard, where his 2-yar-old son Mapenzi will be the the zoo’s new breeding male giraffe. Rafiki fathered more than 12 calves while at the zoo and some of those offspring reside at zoos and aquariums across the country. He even has a great grandcalf, officials said.

“There is no doubt his legacy will live on, in his descendants, in our keepers, in our guests and volunteers, and in the amazing care we provide to all our animals,” said Africa Platform keeper Alyssa Simon. “He will be greatly missed.”

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About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.