BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) – A long-time resident of the Gladys Porter Zoo was humanely euthanized Tuesday after zoo veterinarians determined that complications from a previous leg surgery were impacting his quality of life.

The Gladys Porter Zoo’s infamous herd of reticulated giraffes now has one less member. Lalo, a 12-year-old male reticulated giraffe, was euthanized on January 25, 2022, following complications from a surgery he had when he was 11 months old.

Just before Lalo turned one year old, he sustained a fracture to his hind leg, according to a zoo press release. While the fracture was repaired, zoo veterinarians feared that the fracture would impact his leg’s growth in the future.

“Anesthesia and surgery in giraffe are the most challenging things for a zoo veterinarian. A three-legged giraffe would never survive in the wild. In doing the surgery, we pushed modern animal medicine and zoo biology to its absolute limit,” said Dr. Tom deMaar.

The zoo celebrated 12 years with Lalo, far surpassing the expectations.

Reticulated giraffes are one of four species that live in the wild, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Reticulated giraffes reside in northern and northeastern Kenya, as well as the southern part of Ethiopia and Somalia, and have been listed as ‘endangered’ since 2018. The average lifespan of a reticulated giraffe in the wild is 25 years.

Zoo staff carefully monitoring Lalo expected a decline in his health over the next six months that would worsen as time went on. While he was being treated with joint supplements and pain medication, Lalo’s keepers determined that his quality of life was already suffering and made the decision to euthanize him.

“Every day he was alive was a miracle. We wanted his last day to be a good one,” said Deputy Director Colette Adams.