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Giraffe Who Died At LI Game Farm Lacked Heat, Proper Nutrition: USDA

Business & Tech Giraffe Who Died At LI Game Farm Lacked Heat, Proper Nutrition: USDA The beloved giraffe, Bobo, had a heavy parasite load and was suffering from malnutrition and cold temperatures, USDA says.
Although the Long Island Game Farm said Bobo died “unexpectedly,” the USDA said (Courtesy Lori and Steve Biegler)
MANORVILLE, NY — Bobo, the beloved giraffe from the Long Island Game Farm who died last October, lacked heat and was suffering from malnutrition, according to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The USDA inspection report, issued on January 30, said that 3-year old giraffe, who died of heart failure, was not given adequate heat or proper nutrition. The Long Island Game Farm did not respond to a phone request and email asking for comment.
Just days before he died, a “Bon Voyage” party was held in September for Bobo, a popular member of the Long Island Game Farm family, who was slated to leave for the cold winter months and head to a warmer climate. But the plan was that Bobo the Giraffe would be back soon, and able to live year-round at the farm.The fundraising event at the Long Island Game Farm was presented by the Foundation for Wildlife Sustainability, Inc., the game farm’s new non-profit arm.
Funds from the event were garnered to support the construction of a heated and air-conditioned giraffe house large enough to accommodate two giraffes, and offer year-round public programming to raise awareness of the endangered species. When Bobo died, Long Island Game Farm President Melinda Novak said: “We are so heartbroken. We loved Bobo beyond measure, and he was such a fixture at the park. We had been working hard to create a permanent home for him here. Bobo will be missed terribly.”
On Tuesday, John Di Leonardo, president and executive director of Humane Long Island and an anthrozoologist and wildlife rehabilitator, said he believes that “the Long Island Game Farm critically violated the federal Animal Welfare Act by failing to provide Bobo with adequate heat and also violated the Act by failing to provide the 3-year-old giraffe with proper nutrition in the months leading up to his premature death from heart failure. ” He added: “Contrary to statements from the Long Island Game Farm labeling Bobo’s death ‘sudden’ and ‘unexpected, the USDA’s inspection report reveals that Bobo had been suffering with a heavy parasite load and poor body condition for at least two months prior to his death. Bobo’s necropsy showed ‘serous atrophy of fat,’ also known as ‘starvation marrow,’ associated with ‘malnutrition’ and lack of adequate heat,” Di Leonardo said.
“In the wild, Bobo the giraffe would have roamed up to 100 square miles of African grasslands and open woodlands, shared a complex social life with a herd of his own species for as long as 25 years, and spent many hours of the day and night browsing for leaves, shoots and fruits from tall trees,” Di Leonardo said. “But at the Long Island Game Farm, Bobo essentially starved and froze until his premature death at only three years old. Abducted from his family and leased for public interactions, Bobo died alone, confined to a cramped enclosure without any other giraffes or even a tree.” Di Leonardo said his organization planned to investigate the $568,000 grant awarded to the game farm from from Suffolk County as part of the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program last year. Di Leonardo added that Humane Long Island would be filing complaints with the Suffolk County Department of Health and the IRS regarding the “Bon Voyage Party” that “exploited the ailing baby giraffe in his final weeks of life.” According to the USDA report: “On October 2, 2023, a 3-year-old, male giraffe died after a period of increased rain and decreased temperatures in the local area. The he giraffe had been under veterinary treatment for heavy parasite load and poor body condition for approximately two months. “According to weather records the minimum temperature during the period immediately prior to the giraffe’s death was 53 degrees Fahrenheit and the total precipitation over a 3-day period equaled 1.16 inches. On necropsy of the animal, multiple locations displayed serous atrophy of fat. Such findings are associated with death in giraffes due to energy deficient diets and colder temperatures. Higher-energy feeds and temperature-controlled barns are associated with an increased survival of giraffes in such conditions. This facility’s barn has an heater affixed near the ceiling, but no surrounding insulation, chest-level heating, or temperature gauge inside. This item was corrected on October 2, 2023, the facility no longer has a giraffe. The facilit must implement appropriate corrective measures by updating the barn to account for the local climatic conditions and be appropriate to the species housed prior to obtaining another giraffe.”
As for feeding, the USDA report said: “A 3-year-old male giraffe had been under veterinary treatment for heavy parasite load and poor body condition for approximately two months. The giraffe’s regular diet did not include high-energy browse. The facility was following feeding instructions from the giraffe’s owner, which included lettuce, carrots, second cut hay, and a pelleted diet. Malnutrition was noted on necropsy of this animal. The poor body condition of this giraffe may be attributed to the energy deficient diet. This item was corrected on October 2, 2023; the facility no longer has a giraffe. The facility must implement appropriate corrective measures by adapting an appropriate feeding plan before obtaining another giraffe.” In early October, the staff at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville said that they were devastated to learn that Bobo had died suddenly. “Long Island Game Farm is sad to announce the sudden passing of their beloved giraffe, Bobo,” a release said. “Bobo passed away unexpectedly on the morning of October 2 from heart failure, according to the game farm’s veterinarian, Dr. Benjamin Haar. The three-year-old giraffe had been under routine care for parasites, which is common in giraffes. A necropsy examination is being coordinated, and results may take several months. ” John Di Leonardo, president and executive director of Humane Long Island and an anthrozoologist and wildlife rehabilitator, said he believes the giraffe should not have been kept at the facility, or at any similar farm. He added that he believes: “In roadside zoos, like the Long Island Game Farm, giraffes are confined to a tiny fraction of their natural range and denied opportunities to engage in their most basic behaviors, including using their fantastically long tongues to explore the world in search of food. This type of chronic deprivation can lead to abnormal behaviors that are clear indications of psychological distress and frustration, including abnormal pacing and repetitive, compulsive tongue movements, as have been observed by both Bobo and Clifford — the giraffe the Long Island Game Farm rented before him.”
The Long Island Game Farm responded to Di Leonardo’s remarks. “In response to Mr. Di Leonardo’s opinion on zoos, we’d like to express that everyone at Long Island Game Farm was saddened by the sudden loss of Bobo, and it is disheartening when we see animal rights extremists exploiting it to further their own agenda.” The LIGF added: “We understand Mr. Di Leonardo doesn’t like zoos, but millions of people do, and for many of them zoos are the only opportunity they have to see giraffes and other animals up close. We stand by our care for Bobo and all of our animals, and we look forward to continuing to share our animals with the thousands of New York families who visit us every year.” In addition, the LIGF said: “The majority of the animals at Long Island Game Farm have been rescued, rehabilitated, or re-homed. We never take animals directly from the wild — we work within the zoo community across the country and often take in animals where others have a surplus or are unable to care for them. Bobo was well cared for and beloved at the game farm, and we had been working to build a heated giraffe house to keep Bobo and another male giraffe at the farm year-round. He is terribly missed.” Long Island Game Farm added that the facility is a member of the Zoological Association of America. “The game farm also carries USDA Aphis Animal Welfare Act, Suffolk County Health Department Petting Zoo, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Dangerous Animal licenses,” a statement read. “Our dedicated staff and volunteers regularly attend training courses through a variety of organizations like San Diego Wildlife Academy, and American Association of Zookeepers, as well as the non-profit Zoological Association of America. We hold ourselves to highest standards of animal care, and aim to educate the public on the various wildlife species that call the game farm home.”
The staff mourned Bobo’s loss. “Bobo was such an important member of our zoo family,” game farm director Greg Drossel said. “His presence created so many lasting memories, not only for the staff, but for all the visitors he touched with his gentle nature.” Long Island Game Farm representative said last year they also a supporter of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s efforts to secure a future for all giraffe populations in the wild; the game farm also donated a portion of ticket sales that week to the nonprofit organization, organizers of the event said. Di Leonardo said last year that he’d like to see change. “If the Long Island Game Farm cares about giraffes, it will stop renting and shipping them like a parcel over hundreds of miles to an inappropriate climate and commit to using the newfound space to expand an existing enclosure for one of its many other cramped animals.” He added Tuesday: “It is too late for Bobo, but it’s not too late for the other animals suffering at roadside zoos like the Long Island Game Farm. Humane Long Island is urging the public to honor Bobo by vowing to never go to a roadside zoo or any place that exploits animals for entertainment.”

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