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North Carolina Zoo Mourns Tragic Loss of Giraffe Calf

North Carolina Zoo Mourns Tragic Loss of Giraffe Calf

North Carolina Zoo Mourns Tragic Loss of Giraffe Calf

Asheboro, N.C. -– December 14, 2023 -- North Carolina Zoo Mourns Tragic Loss of Giraffe Calf 

ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina Zoo is heartbroken to announce the untimely death of Fenn, the beloved six-month-old giraffe calf, whose birth and presence at the Zoo delighted individuals around the world. A grief counselor has been brought in to support staff members as they navigate the emotions associated with this tragic loss.

Fenn was nursing when he became unexpectedly startled by another giraffe. He bolted, colliding with a nearby gate and falling to the ground.  Unfortunately, Fenn sustained head and neck trauma from the fall and passed away late evening Dec. 13 despite receiving rapid medical intervention from veterinary staff. 

Fenn was born at the North Carolina Zoo on May 20, 2023, to a first-time mother, Leia (14), and father, Jack (15). He entered the world as a beacon of hope, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 145 pounds. Fans of the North Carolina Zoo welcomed his arrival and helped name Fenn in a public poll that garnered more than 100,000 votes.

Fenn was an energetic and vibrant addition to the giraffe herd (or tower) and quickly became a cherished member of the Zoo community. His playful antics and charming nature endeared him to staff and visitors alike. He will be remembered with fondness and love by all who knew him.

The North Carolina Zoo family is shocked and devastated by Fenn’s tragic death. The Zoo would like to express gratitude for the outpouring of support during this incredibly challenging time. Staff members, particularly the caretakers who formed a special bond with him since his birth, ask for respect and privacy during their time of grief.  

About the North Carolina Zoo

At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world's largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals in the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,700 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature's diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature's diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.  

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.

The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the North Carolina Symphony, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit