DALLAS — The Dallas Zoo released more information Monday about the possible cause of death for two of its giraffes that recently died.
Jesse, a 14-year-old giraffe, died Oct. 29, "despite aggressive treatment and heroic efforts by animal care staff," the zoo said. He first showed signs of illness on Oct. 27.
A few days earlier, over the weekend of Oct. 23-24, 19-year-old giraffe Auggie died "after dealing with age-related health issues that led to liver failure."
Monday, the zoo said the two deaths are possibly related.
Zoo staff said in a Facebook post Monday that Jesse's blood test showed "abnormal liver enzymes," which tipped them off that there might be a connection to Auggie's liver failure.
The necropsies (autopsies for animals) for both giraffes showed liver damage, which led zoo officials to focus on the possibility that both Jesse and Auggie were exposed to a toxin, either through food, through the exhibit or through a foreign object.
The zoo said that while they think the two deaths are related, they are still testing to find definite proof.
That testing includes lab testing on blood and tissue samples from both giraffes to identify any more similarities.
"We still have intense work ahead of us to find a possible link between these two deaths and determine what may have led to this. The lab results we depend on for diagnosis and confirmation simply cannot come fast enough – for us, and for you," the zoo said in the Facebook post. "We know it's difficult to hear about these losses. We hope explanations and openness like this help you trust that no one cares more for these animals or grieves more over the losses than the animal care and veterinary teams here at the Zoo. We will keep you updated as we continue to work through this evolving situation."
There are now six giraffes in the zoo's herd, the zoo said in a Sunday statement to WFAA.