Zoo Vandals Scare Giraffes to Death

Two giraffes were found dead at a Polish zoo over the weekend after vandals broke in and terrorized the animals.

3-year-old Suri was discovered dead early Sunday, and tests indicated it died of stress and a heart attack, according to a statement from Lodz zoo officials.

"The autopsy of the first giraffe, three-year-old female, found a ruptured heart valve and bruising, a sign of a severe stress reaction," the zoo's deputy director Wlodzimierz Stanislawski told AFP.

The second giraffe, 6-year-old Hana, was found dead early Monday, and it is believed that the sudden stress caused by the vandals worsened the animal's condition. Hana had been undergoing treatment for a parasitic infection.

The giraffes found were listed as a member of the Rothschild giraffe subspecies, which is currently listed as an endangered species.

Authorities investigating the vandalism stated that the culprits destroyed benches, signs and statues around the park and even tossed debris into some of the animal's enclosures.

"Giraffes are extremely timid. Stress causes a flight response in them. They react the same way to every unusual noise," said Stanislawski.

With the passing of the two giraffes the zoo is left one last giraffe, a 6-year-old male named Tofik.

The zoo had been working for years on finding mates for the giraffes in an effort to get the animals to mate and produce offspring in captivity.

"This is a very sad occurrence to us, a great loss," Zoo director Ryszard Topola said.

Finding other potential mates for the surviving giraffe may prove difficult given that there are few in captivity.

"It is a tough task because there are not many available female Rothschild giraffes in zoos, but we will try to fill in this sudden gap," Stanislawski said.

Investigators are determining how the vandals gained entry into the zoo, but are having a hard time because the zoo does not have video surveillance cameras installed.