FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A beloved giraffe at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo died Friday, the zoo announced, just before her 34th birthday.

According to a release Monday, Zuri had been showing signs of abdominal pain and a decreased appetite in the week leading up to her death. The zoo’s care team provided several days of treatment, the release said, but Zuri’s symptoms got worse.

“With Zuri’s well-being in mind, the care staff made a difficult but kind decision to gift Zuri a peaceful end,” the release said.

Zuri was born on Dec. 6, 1988, and has greeted over 17 million guests since becoming part of the zoo’s family in 1989. She was the oldest reticulated giraffe in the United States, according to the release, and served as an ambassador for the endangered species.

“There was nothing sweeter than hearing the squeal of a child who fed Zuri a piece of lettuce
for the first time,” said executive director Rick Schuiteman. “Our mission is to connect kids
and animals, strengthen families, and inspire people to care; and Zuri’s impact simply stood
above the rest.”

The loss comes a few months after the death of the zoo’s oldest male giraffe, Jelani.