Several baby animals have been born in zoos lately, ranging from giant panda cubs to elephant calves, but another birth that slipped under the radar just last month was a giraffe calf that goes by the name of Julius.
He was around 6 feet tall at birth, which is to be expected for a creature with such a long neck, but while Julius’ tall stature may be convincing of good health, don’t let it deceive you.
Image Credit: Maryland Zoo
Julius is having some serious health issues, and veterinarians are working around the clock to help ensure his survival.
He didn’t get the antibodies he needed from his mother when he was born, so he underwent a plasma transfusion just three days after birth. A second plasma transfusion was conducted over the weekend, three weeks later, a feat made possible by a generous donation from Colorado’s Cheyanne Mountain Zoo.
The process to nurse Julius into good health has been challenging, and he isn’t out of the woods just yet. His health appears to be in a spiraling decline, and keeping him stable is a struggle.
“He has had peaks and valleys throughout his treatment as many critical patients will, but the newest step in the last couple days has definitely been in the negative direction,” says Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian.
In addition to issues with feeding Julius formula from a bottle, he is also beginning to exhibit signs of infection, which is a red flag considering his antibody shortage makes fighting infection more difficult.
All options are on the table; continued treatment and even euthanasia are being considered. Veterinarians are trying their best to avoid the latter outcome.
“There is certainly that possibility (of euthanasia), but it is not one that we’re looking forward to,” Sander says. “We’re still working with him to not have to come to that conclusion.”
Fortunately, Julius' bloodwork results following the second plasma transfusion were looking slightly better. He is being supported with antibiotics to fight infection, so there’s hope that he might get better over the next few days.
For now, intensive 24-hour care continues, and there’s not much else that can be done besides waiting to see what happens.