MARYLAND

Catoctin Zoo's only giraffe dies

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THURMONT, Md. (WJLA) - The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo is mourning the loss of its young giraffe.

Photo: YouTube

Rocket was Catoctin's only giraffe and died in his sleep Tuesday night, according to a release from the zoo. He was just 4 years old. 

Healthy giraffes can live up to 25 years in the wild and even longer in captivity. 

Rocket came to Catoctin in 2011 after a fire at the private zoo where he was born killed his caretaker and several other giraffes. 

“When we accepted Rocket into our collection, we knew that he was special,” said executive director Richard Hahn in the statement. "Like famous wrestler Andre the Giant, he was also a gentle giant that died too young."

Rocket was born without hair and needed to be bottle raised from birth. His stay at Catoctin was supposed to be temporary because the zoo did not have the heating necessary for him to live there in the winter. However, the staff held fundraisers so Rocket could call Catoctin his new home. 

A necropsy is planned to determine Rocket's cause of death.

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