Jumbe the giraffe dies at Zoo Knoxville

Jumbe the giraffe enjoying a meal. (Source: Zoo Knoxville)

One of the oldest giraffes in the United States died at Zoo Knoxville last week. 

Jumbe, a 19-year-old male giraffe, was “humanely euthanized due to declining health” on Thursday, officials said.

“Jumbe was a gentle giant who was beloved,” said Phil Colclough, the zoo’s head of animal care, conservation, and education. 

“While making compassionate decisions are part of our job, they are still difficult and come with a lot of sadness,” he said. “We know our community is grieving with us and the outpouring of stories and photos of Jumbe and what he meant to so many are both touching and comforting.”

Jumbe was placed under hospice care when he reached the maximum dosages of medications that could be used to manage his arthritis pain and inflammation, which were causing severe mobility problems.

“His care team determined his quality of life had reached a turning point and there were no further treatment options, “ said Zoo Knoxville spokesperson Tina Rolen.

Jumbe came to Zoo Knoxville in 2011 at the recommendation of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a collaborative effort of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure a genetically healthy and protected population of giraffe remain in human care as wild populations are declining and endangered, Rolen explained.  

Jumbe sired two offspring: “Bea”, a female born in 2019, and “J.J.”, a male born in 2020 who still lives at Zoo Knoxville.

Photos, memories, and condolences for a tribute to Jumbe may be shared on Zoo Knoxville’s social media pages @zooknoxville or with the hashtag #rememberingjumbe.

 Published on October 31, 2022.