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Calgary Zoo confirms baby giraffe died from birth defects, panda not pregnant

Last Updated Oct 8, 2019 at 5:55 pm MDT

A male calf giraffe, born on Sunday, is shown in this handout image next to his mother Emara at the Calgary Zoo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Zoo- Zookeeper-Mona Keith

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The results of a necropsy on a newborn giraffe that died over the weekend at the Calgary Zoo revealed its cause of death.

According to the zoo’s veterinary team, the male calf was born with several birth defects including an under-developed urethra that prevented excrement from leaving the body.

Despite interventions from the Animal Care team, toxins built up in his body and led to his death.

The calf was born to an 8-year-old Masai giraffe named Emara who suffered pregnancy complications prior to the birth of this calf.

Out of three previous pregnancies, two ended in miscarriages and a third produced a calf that died due to birth defects.

In an effort to ensure this pregnancy was successful, zoo specialists gave Emara progesterone supplements, a first for a giraffe.


Another emotional rollercoaster came to an end for zookeepers.

After months of monitoring, Er Shun, a giant panda on loan from China, was determined not to be pregnant.

In April she was artificially inseminated and zoo officials have been watching to see if she conceived.

Using a combination of behavioural signs, urine hormone testing and ultrasounds, pregnancy was ruled out.

The zoo confirmed that it’s not unusual for giant pandas to have pseudo pregnancies or miscarriages.

This week visitors to the zoo will be able to see Er Shun in the Panda Passage habitat after she spent the majority of the summer in the maternity area.

Currently on loan as part of a long-term conservation breeding program, the adult giant pandas, Da Mao and Er Shun, are at the Calgary Zoo until 2023.

The giant panda twins born in 2015, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, are returning to China this year.