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Saying Goodbye to Beloved Giraffe, Goody

Categories: Animals

Goody the reticulated giraffeSaying goodbye is never easy, especially when it’s family. Gudrun – affectionately known as “Goody” to her friends and caretakers – came to Sacramento in June of 1999. Today, her entire Sacramento Zoo family mourns the loss of one of its most vibrant and charismatic members.

At just one year, Goody moved from Milwaukee with her sister Skye. Together, they have called the Sacramento Zoo home for the past 20 years.

Goody was a celebrity in her own right. She gained national attention over the years for the custom-made shoe she wore and the variety of treatments that were used to treat her arthritis and leg conformation issues successfully. Early in her life, Goody developed abnormal conformation of her legs that impacted the way she walked. As she aged, she developed early onset arthritis in her front left leg and began to wear down her hoof abnormally. Her Sacramento Zoo care team trained Goody to participate in voluntary hoof trims to help correct her feet. The older Goody got, the more intensive treatment she needed for her arthritis. Zoo staff worked with specialists from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine to provide a wide range of therapies to help her with any discomfort and swelling.

Goody regularly received acupuncture, cold laser therapy, electromagnetic pulse therapy, icing, heat wraps and ultrasound therapy in addition to regular arthritis medications. To provide support and improve the way she walked, Goody was fitted with a unique, custom-made orthotic shoe that she wore for the last several years to allow her to move around her home comfortably and keep up with her sister Skye. The various treatments Goody received improved her ability to enjoy her life and day-to-day activities. The treatments slowed the progression of her arthritis and other related ailments for many years.

Goody the giraffe and Senior Manager of Animal Care Melissa
Goody and Melissa

Goody had an incredibly trusting and bonded relationship with her keepers Lindsey, Melissa and most recently, Rachel. These relationships are not only essential to reinforcing trust with the animal, but they are vital to the keepers’ goal of providing excellent daily care. Current ungulate (or hoofed mammal) keeper Lindsey has worked with Goody for 20 years and Rachel, newest to the team has taken care of Goody for two years. Senior Manager of Animal Care, Melissa, has cared for Goody for 11 years and has been a constant champion and pioneer in her unprecedented care. These long-term relationships have played an essential role in Goody’s intensive care regimen and are just a few examples of the close-knit bonds created between keeper staff and the animals they care for.

“Goody lived up to her name; she was kind, cooperative and clever. Goody allowed us to work with her in amazing ways so that we could extend her time here with us and improve her quality of life,” said Melissa. “She was an incredible friend and the perfect ambassador for giraffe in the wild.”

Recently, Goody battled with a hoof abscess in her right foot. Despite treatments, changes to her hoof care and medications for the condition, Goody showed limited improvement with germs at the abscess showing resistance to antibiotics. As Goody’s condition declined, and she became visually uncomfortable on both of her front feet, care staff made the decision to humanely euthanize her yesterday afternoon.

A team of specially-trained Sacramento Zoo and UC Davis staff assembled to perform the final procedure. A full necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Sacramento Zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams did everything possible to make Goody comfortable and give her the best quality of life into her golden years.

“Goody was one of the most amazing patients that I have ever worked with. Together with her keepers the veterinary team would constantly come up with new ideas to try to help her with her condition, and she was patient and trusting enough to let us try them. While some of our ideas (like her orthopedic shoe) worked better than others, every day I was constantly inspired by her spirited and carefree attitude despite all of the challenges she faced. She was an incredibly special animal. I learned so much from her, and she will be missed dearly by us all,” said Dr. Jenessa Gjeltema, Associate Veterinarian at the Sacramento Zoo.

Goody was a sweet and social giraffe and seemed to enjoy meeting guests at the feeding deck, interacting with her keepers and even painting as a form of enrichment. Join us in remembering the life of Goody – a beloved giraffe who made us all smile until the end.