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Kansas City Zoo mourns deaths of 2 animals, including Dixie the giraffe

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    Kansas City, MO (KMBC) — The Kansas City Zoo announced Tuesday it has lost two “beloved animals” over the past few days, including 2 ½-year-old Masai giraffe Dixie.

Along with Dixie’s death on Saturday, the zoo also lost Radi, the long-time patriarch of the zoo’s western lowland gorilla troop. Radi passed away on Monday, the zoo said.

Dixie was born at the Kansas City Zoo in February 2018 to mom Lizzie and immediately won the hearts of many with her unusually fluffy ossicones.

Later that year, “Darling Dixie” gained international fame when a GIF of her went viral on social media. Her caregivers at the zoo said Dixie was special and a bit of a diva who loved to be the center of attention, was eager to learn, and an excellent older sister. She was also the self-appointed groomer of the rest of the herd’s ossicones and manes.

“Dixie’s animal care team discovered she had unexpectedly died on July 11 while in our giraffe herd’s outdoor habitat in the Africa Plains exhibit,” the zoo said in a news release. “A necropsy has been performed, but the full results from testing could take up to six weeks or more. Preliminary results show that her death likely stemmed from rumenitis, an inflammation in her stomach, for which she had been receiving treatment.”

Radi was one of the zoo’s most recognizable animals.

He led a group of three adult females along with his only offspring, five-year-old daughter Masika. The 37-year-old gorilla had resided in the West Africa section of the Zoo since Africa’s opening in 1995. The zoo said Radi was extremely smart and one of the first great apes in the country trained to participate in his own routine cardiac ultrasound assessments.

“Earlier this spring, Radi began to exhibit symptoms of a serious illness that caused him to lose weight,” the zoo said. “After extensive testing and treatment, it was determined that he had Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. Zoo staff worked tirelessly, doing all they could to achieve the best possible outcome but after initial improvement, Radi’s health began to decline again and he was no longer responding to treatment.

“Though a difficult decision, Radi was humanely euthanized late yesterday. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the median life expectancy for a male western lowland gorilla is 32.7 years.”

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