TOPEKA (KSNT) – Abi the giraffe died Sunday, May 29, according to the Topeka Zoo. She had been receiving treatment for an injury on her front left leg, but zoo staff said a radiograph study over the last several months pointed to possible neoplasia, or cancer.

The zoo said in a press release it has consulted numerous experts but had to make the difficult decision to euthanize the 9-year-old giraffe due to quality of life concerns. According to the zoo, Abi started showing symptoms in 2019. Over the past several years, Abi had received treatment for the injury, but staff said the joint had become more unstable, and that the health issue was irreversible.

Giraffes rely on all four legs to get around and the zoo said similar to horses, without the use of one of her legs, Abi would have been unable to get up from lying down.

“When you devote your life to working and advocating for animals, you know this type of day will come. It doesn’t make it any easier,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “For so many of our staff, the animals they work with on a daily basis are like family members. When you lose an animal like Abi, the hurt and pain are real. The same is true for guests that have gotten to know her. She will be mourned and missed.”

Abi came to the Topeka Zoo in 2015 from the Albuquerque Biological Park in New Mexico.

The Topeka Zoo said an MRI will be done on Abi’s injured joint in hopes of gaining information that might help another giraffe with a similar injury. She’ll also receive a brain MRI which is part of ongoing research to determine why giraffes don’t suffer strokes.