Giraffe dies after eating bags left by zoo visitors
Jabbar's friendliness may have led to his death: Autopsy finds plastic food bags in his digestive system.
Jabbar, a friendly giraffe at the Hay Park zoo Photo: Oren Goldberg
A nine-year-old giraffe, loved by zookeepers for his friendly nature, was found
dead on the ground of his plot at Hay Park in Kiryat Motzkin, near Haifa, on
His friendliness may have led to his death, however,
after an autopsy conducted by zoo veterinarians revealed plastic food bags in
his digestive system, which he presumably received from visitors eager to feed
“It was one of the worst deaths you have ever seen in your life –
just seeing this big animal laying on the ground dead,” Oren Goldberg, the Hay
Park zoo manager, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “For me it was hard and for
all of the workers in the zoo. People were crying. He’s been with us almost
seven years – he’s part of the family.”
The giraffe, named Jabbar,
received his name – which means “large” in Arabic – due to his height, because
he reminded his keepers of American basketball star Kareem Abdul Jabbar,
according to Goldberg.
Jabbar arrived from the Ramat Gan Safari to Hay
Park, a 13-hectare zoo with over 1,000 animals from around the world, almost
seven years ago, and for the past three years has been living with a female
giraffe named Olga. The two giraffes had not produced any children.
found plastic bags that were inside his body,” Goldberg said. “Visitors gave him bags with food inside.”
While Goldberg said he
realizes that whoever fed Jabbar probably had no bad intentions, yet signs all
over the zoo forbid people from feeding the animals anything, even
“Each animal has his own diet and we have to know how much
food he eats each day,” he said.
Volunteers cruise the zoo all the time
warning people not to feed the animals, but Goldberg said many visitors probably
feel that if they pay admission they have the right to feed the
There are fences all around the zoo rather than cement walls, to
provide a direct view of the landscape to visitors to the relatively open cages
– an openness that Goldberg said the zoo management may need to
Since the zoo staff is already doing “everything we can do,” the
only new initiative that could help prevent such situations in the future is
passing some kind of law that would impose a penalty upon those who feed the
Following Jabbar’s death, MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) initiated a
bill fining visitors who feed animals in the zoo NIS 5,000.
unnecessary death of this giraffe, like that of dozens of other animals in zoos
every year as a result of their being fed by the public despite instructions
[telling them not to do so], requires legislation that will set a fine that will
be a deterrence and prevent such incidents from happening in the future,” Hasson
The Kadima MK plans to officially submit a bill when the Knesset
reconvenes in October.
Although such legislation would help prevent more
zoo animal deaths, it will not bring back the amiable Jabbar, who used to
approach visitors very closely.
“He was very friendly – probably one of
the things that was bad for him,” Goldberg said.