News Release

October 28, 2015

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351


Note: Images of Franny at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded below:


Chicago Zoological Society Saddened by Loss of Popular Giraffe

     Brookfield, Ill.—The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which operates Brookfield Zoo, is saddened to announce the loss of Franny, a 24-year-old reticulated giraffe, who had lived at the zoo since 1992. The difficult decision to humanely euthanize her today, October 28, was made after age-related degenerative arthritis began to severely impact her daily comfort and quality of life.

For the past several years, veterinary staff had been closely monitoring Franny for signs of decline associated with geriatric degenerative joint disease, a natural process seen in elderly animals and people. Medications were used intermittently to help Franny maintain a normal life, but recently her condition worsened making it difficult for her to move around with the zoo’s herd.

Franny is survived by three calves, including 8-year-old Arnieta, who still resides at the zoo, as well as seven grand-calves and two great grand-calves who reside at other accredited North American zoos.

Over the past 23 years, millions of zoo guests had the opportunity to see Franny. “In addition to being a favorite of our staff and guests, Franny truly was an ambassador for the species in the wild. Seeing a giraffe up close is an amazing experience, one that we hope inspires our guests to connect with and care about the species,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal programs.

The time for making that connection is more crucial now than it ever has been. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the reticulated giraffe is not the least numerous, but is the giraffe subspecies with the greatest population decline. Their numbers have declined from approximately 29,000 individuals to between 4,700 and 5,000 in the past decade due to poaching, degradation and loss of habitat, civil unrest, and the competition for resources from humans and their livestock.

Due to the declining number of giraffes as well as its closest relative, the okapi, the IUCN Species Survival Commission established the Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG) in March 2013. This global initiative is helping to attract and strengthen international assistance for the two species and provides an official forum to support the implementation of much-needed conservation strategies for the species across Africa. Other organizations, including the Reticulated Giraffe Project, is working to reverse the population decline by coordinating the efforts of a large and varied network of conservationists, who in different ways provide information, experience, and expertise. The Chicago Zoological Society has contributed funding to the Reticulated Giraffe Project as well as has assisted with fieldwork in Kenya, Africa.

The Society is also hosting the International Giraffid Conference in May 2016 that will bring together conservation biologists and zoo professionals from around the globe who are dedicated to the care of giraffe and okapi. The conference will focus on gathering and sharing knowledge of field biologists and professional animal caregivers to further the understanding of these charismatic species and promote their conservation and care.

In addition to Arnieta, the other members of Brookfield Zoo’s giraffe herd—Potoka, 2; Jasiri, 10; and Mithra, 25--can be seen at the zoo’s Habitat Africa! The Savannah.

#      #      #

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, inspires conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located off First Avenue between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Director of Public Relations
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read about our innovative practices in animal welfare to ensure the ultimate care of our individual animals.


Visit Brookfield Zoo

Create extraordinary connections with animals and nature!

Animal Welfare

You Can Help!

Become our partner in caring for animals and in connecting people with wildlife and nature.