Julius the Baby Giraffe, Struggling with His Health, Undergoing ‘Major Procedure’

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Photo via Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The updates keep on coming for Julius, but this one is serious.

Health concerns for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s newborn giraffe have led staff to take a more drastic approach than in past weeks. The Druid Hill Park-based zoo said on its blog last night that Julius, born roughly one month ago, is undergoing a medical operation today to “stabilize him.”

“After consulting many experts, exhausting other treatment options, and observing Julius today, the team is beginning preparations for a major procedure tomorrow,” said a post from Wednesday evening.

Staff said he received fluids, vitamins and antibiotics to help him survive the “impending medical intervention,” which carries “serious risks.” However, the zoo expressed confidence in its veterinarians and giraffe care specialists.

Zoo spokeswoman Jane Ballentine said in an email that she hasn’t received an update on Julius’ health today.

Born to 7-year-old Kesi, Julius was six feet tall and 143 pounds on his first day on Earth, and managed to stand up shortly afterward. However, he didn’t take to nursing from Kesi right away, which vets said left him without vital antibodies needed to keep his immune system strong in his early days.

He’s since received two giraffe plasma infusions, and has been on a formulary bottle-feeding diet now that Kesi has stopped nursing. His weight has fluctuated over the past few weeks, and his blood work has improved and declined in stints, sparking concerns.

While struggling health-wise, the giraffe calf has done fine socially. Last week, he met his half-sister, Willow, who was born in early February. The meet-and-greet marked the first time he’d gathered with his mother and sister in the same room.

For now, it’s a waiting game for news about Julius’ health.

“We know the hours will pass just a little slower tonight and tomorrow for the many Julius supporters waiting to hear how his care through the night and into the procedure tomorrow go,” staff wrote on the blog Wednesday. “They will for us too.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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