Angel, via Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Angel, via Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo’s Angel has joined her heavenly counterparts. Zoo officials euthanized the much-loved giraffe Tuesday after chronic pain issues became too much for the 17-year-old to bear.

In recent years, Angel began to show signs of leg and back pain. Staff were able to treat her with “creative therapies” such as ultrasounds and hoof trims. However, she was showing more signs of pain in recent weeks, including laying down in the mornings. That led to Tuesday’s “difficult decision,” said Ellen Bronson, the zoo’s chief veterinarian.

While most of her fellow giraffe reside in Africa, Baltimore was the only home Angel knew. She was born at the zoo, nurtured by staff and became a favorite of zoo-goers. At 17, she was by far the eldest giraffe of the zoo’s herd, which includes four other giraffes aged 2-7. Staff were mourning Angel’s passing, calling Wednesday a “tough day.”

“She was hand-raised by staff and was the center of our herd for so many years,” said Maryland Zoo general curator Mike McClure. “It has been wonderful to have her help the three new female giraffe acclimate to their home at the Zoo, and she was also a favorite with guests who were able to feed her at the Giraffe Feeding Station. We will all miss her greatly.”

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.