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Final Results for Jafari



Aldergrove – After an extremely thorough and exhaustive investigation into the death of Jafari, a cause of death has finally been determined. The investigative team was comprised of numerous independent giraffe pathologists and zoo experts who have revealed that Jafari’s death resulted from a degenerative brain disease.

Dr. Burton, Veterinarian, for the Greater Vancouver Zoo stated: “Given all the information that we have, Jafari died very quickly and fortunately; there would have been little or no suffering. No stone was left unturned due to the cooperative and determined nature of the independent pathologist.”

In addition to the vast amount of testing at the Ministry of Agriculture lab in Abbotsford, a collection of food, water and cell samples were then sent to another independent lab in Michigan USA.  Due to the investigation of this magnitude, compound testing at the Michigan lab took a significant time to complete on the following items:

  • drugs
  • vitamins
  • antibiotics
  • plant toxins
  • natural products
  • polycyclic aromatics
  • alkyl benzenes
  • pesticides
  • disinfectants
  • antioxidants
  • organophosphates
  • carbamates
  • aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • organochlorines
  • industry-relevant compounds such as environmental pollutants

For a complete list of all items that were tested, please see the GC/MS screen.

Dr. Hilmsworth, an independent Veterinary Anatomic Pathologist stated: “Jafari was suffering from a degenerative brain disease called encephalomalacia. There are a variety of causes of encephalomalacia in ruminants (animals with a fermenting stomach, like cattle, sheep, deer, and giraffes). The ruminant stomach is a giant fermenting vat filled with bacteria…This vat can be extremely sensitive, and, on occasion, even very small changes in intake or digestion can cause those bacteria to produce toxic substances that can affect the brain.

Unfortunately, the exact mechanism linking gastrointestinal dysfunction to encephalomalacia is still poorly understood, despite the fact that the condition is relatively common in domestic ruminants, such as cattle.”

We would like to thank our dedicated and compassionate staff who has been working tirelessly to assist in the investigation, and for all our supporters who have stayed by us and sent in or stopped by with words of encouragement; during this very extensive investigative process.

Everyone at the Greater Vancouver Zoo would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. Hilmsworth and Dr. Burton for their hard work, extraordinary time and dedication with the extremely difficult passing of one of our dear family members. The Zoo is as always focused on providing excellence in animal care and in educating our youth of the future generations of the animal world. The methods of managing exotic animals is constantly evolving and being reviewed, and will be considered and implemented if deemed appropriate.

Media Contact: 

Jody Henderson 

General Manager 

Phone:  604.856.6825 x 27 


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Phone: 604.856.6825