Friday, June 25, 1999

Two giraffes die on trip
from Molokai to Maui

By Gary Kubota


WAILUKU -- Two giraffes scheduled to find a new home at a children's zoo on Maui have died en route from Molokai.

Veterinarians administered shots yesterday to test the animals for tuberculosis and to sedate them for the trip.

"They didn't die immediately," said state veterinarian Dr. James Foppoli. One died before 6 p.m. yesterday and the other died later, he said. The giraffes were put into the container with no problems.

"When they were in their crates, they seemed to be doing fine," Foppoli said.

State officials say tests done on tissue samples from the giraffes may shed light on the cause of death. Results are expected in about a week.

The giraffes, Momi and Maikai, were donated by Molokai Ranch, which is closing its safari park.

Momi and Maikai were scheduled to leave Molokai Sunday night if the tuberculosis tests showed no presence of disease.

They were to be transported to the Keiki Maui Zoo in Kula from Kahului Harbor on Monday.

"It's heart-breaking to us and the kids," said Wanda Riggs, executive director of the zoo.

She said children who are members of the Junior Zoo Crew have been helping to prepare a place for Momi and Maikai for the past three months, painting and cleaning the fenced area.

Molokai Ranch said the transfer of the giraffes was being supervised by a licensed veterinarian and that three state veterinarians were also on Molokai to assist in supervising the move.

"Everyone at Molokai Ranch is mourning the death of the giraffes," said ranch president James Mozley.

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