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Beau the giraffe to undergo ultrasound and liver biopsy

Zoo New England announced today that Beau the giraffe is scheduled to undergo an ultrasound and liver biopsy on Wednesday, August 12. 

The procedures are the result of ongoing health issues for the 16-year-old Masai giraffe, who has recently experienced changes in his appetite and a decrease in weight. Beau is over 18 feet tall and weighs well over 2,000 pounds. Beau

In late July, as a result of the well-established training programs at the zoo, the zookeepers were able to safely obtain a blood sample from Beau with his cooperation. Test results reveal that Beau appears to be dealing with an issue related to his gallbladder or liver. Since then, he has been treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, but at this point the veterinary staff has determined that the ultrasound and biopsy will provide a fuller picture of Beau’s health and the course of treatment.

Wednesday’s procedure will require the use of a sedative, but because of Beau’s large size and the risks associated with anesthesia, the veterinary staff plans to have Beau remain awake throughout the process. This is a minimally invasive technique, which is performed under ultrasound guidance, requiring local anesthesia only at the point of entry. 

“There is always risk associated with a procedure like this, especially with such a large animal. We never enter into these procedures lightly and every possible effort is made to keep the animal, as well as the people involved in the procedure, safe and healthy,” said Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Director of Veterinary Services. “In order to better understand Beau’s health issues, we feel it is important to perform the ultrasound and liver biopsy.”

Beau will remain off exhibit in the coming weeks, so that Zoo staff can closely monitor his progress. The normal daily opportunities to meet Beau from the Giraffe Terrace are temporarily cancelled while he is being treated. 

“Beau is a charismatic animal that is a favorite of staff and visitors alike. He has an incredible story and we hope people will keep him in their thoughts,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO.

Zoo New England has been an active participant in the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. Beau’s mate Jana can be seen on exhibit on the Giraffe Savannah.