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Santa Barbara Zoo mourns loss of elderly Masai giraffe Audrey Monday

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Santa Barbara Zoo mourned the loss of a long-time animal member after the passing of elderly Masai giraffe Audrey on Monday.

Below is a press release on the passing from the SB Zoo:

(June 10, 2024) Santa Barbara, CA – The Santa Barbara Zoo is deeply saddened to announce that Audrey, the elderly female Masai giraffe that lived almost her entire life in Santa Barbara, died overnight. She had appeared to be in good health up until yesterday, when she was presenting vague symptoms of not being quite right and her keepers were monitoring her closely. While her death was unexpected, at the age of 16, Audrey was considered a geriatric giraffe. At this time, the details regarding the cause of death are unknown; however, more information will be available in the coming weeks after a necropsy (animal autopsy) is conducted and a pathology report is received. 

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Audrey’s passing,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, Vice President of Animal Care & Health of the Santa Barbara Zoo. “Audrey was not just a magnificent presence at the Santa Barbara Zoo; she was a nurturing and devoted mother to her calves, a mentor to the younger members of the herd, and an excellent ambassador for her counterparts in the wild who are endangered. Additionally, Audrey's contribution to the Masai giraffe population has been invaluable, helping to ensure the genetic health and sustainability of this endangered species. We will miss Audrey deeply, and we are grateful for the joy and wonder she brought to all who had the privilege of knowing her.”

Audrey was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in 2008, and arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2010, to breed with Michael (who passed away last year). As the matriarch of the Santa Barbara Zoo’s herd, Audrey  had 7 calves total, and four living calves with Michael. Those four each went on to have calves of their own, resulting in 7 grand-calves at zoos across the country.  

As a female selected to breed alongside Michael, who was the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in the AZA population, Audrey made an important contribution to the Masai giraffe Species Survival Plan. She will be deeply missed by everyone in the Zoo community. The Zoo would like to extend a special thank you to donors, especially Audrey’s Premier Foster Feeder, Ginni Dreier, and to all of the keepers and veterinary staff who devoted so much care, time, and effort over the years to ensure Audrey a long and healthy life.

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe herd now numbers four: Adia, Theo, Raymie, and Malia, who was born in November 2023. The giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo are among more than 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

About the Santa Barbara Zoo

The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. for members and 9:30 a.m. for general admission until 5 p.m.; general admission is $25 for adults, $15 for children 2-12, and free for children under 2. Parking is $11. The Santa Barbara Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA zoos are dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great visitor experience, and a better future for all living things. With more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and is the public’s link to helping animals in their native habitats. Visit

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Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
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