Dallas Zoo’s Internet-Famous Giraffe Kipenzi Dies

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DALLAS -- She came into this world in the spotlight, broadcast around the world on Animal Planet Live.  Tuesday, her unexpected exit also made worldwide headlines.

"It's never easy to lose any animal at the zoo," said Harrison Edell, Senior Director of Living Collections at the Dallas Zoo. "But with an unexpected death like this one, it's especially devastating."

The zoo's staff was blindsided Tuesday when Kipenzi, their superstar giraffe calf, died in a freak accident.  Zoo officials said she was running in her habitat when she took a sharp turn and hit a perimeter wall.  She broke her neck and died instantly.kipenzi

Kipenzi was the youngest member of her herd, and the most famous.

Just three months ago, the world watched her mom Katie give birth to Kipenzi live on "Giraffe Cam."  Now Katie and the 11 other giraffes are being watched for a different reason.

"We'll continue to monitor the whole herd to make sure that all those animals are coping with the stress and the change in the social dynamic," said Edell.

The zoo is also checking to make sure everything is as safe as possible.  So far, there's no reason to think there's anything to fix. Just six weeks ago, the USDA inspected the zoo and found no violations.

For folks looking to do something in Kipenzi's name, the zoo is suggesting donations to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

"She got millions of people excited about giraffes, which is exactly what we're all hoping to do," said Edell. "I hope that people continue to love that species."