6-year-old giraffe diagnosed with cancer is pregnant, Seneca Park Zoo confirms

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A delightful surprise unfolded at the Seneca Park Zoo as it was revealed that Kipenzi, a 6-year-old Masai giraffe, was pregnant. The joyous news comes several months after the giraffe was diagnosed with cancer. 

Seneca Park Zoo confirms giraffe with cancer is pregnant

‘Kipenzi is pregnant’

The New York Zoo revealed the joyous news while sharing updates on the giraffe on their official site on Friday, November 17. Dr. Chris McKinney, a veterinarian at the zoo, wrote in a statement, “In working closely with Kipenzi to train her for medical procedures, we have been able to take ultrasounds, as we had some evidence she might be pregnant. We can also now confirm and share that Kipenzi is pregnant.”

“While exact due dates are difficult to predict, we expect a calf this winter,” he continued. “Having said that, giraffe births are always high risk, and with Kipenzi’s medical conditions, we are extremely guarded in projecting an outcome.” The zoo is reportedly exercising extra care and caution due to Kipenzi’s pregnancy and her previous diagnosis of cancer earlier this summer.

Kipenzi was diagnosed with cancer in August

Kipenzi was diagnosed with cancer in August after it had been identified with a squamous cell carcinoma growth on her jaw. Steve Lacy, the zoo’s superintendent, remarked on the noticeable change in Kipenzi’s facial appearance, saying, “Guests to the Animals of the Savanna habitats are now noticing the change in the shape of Kipenzi’s facial structure.”

At the moment, Kipenzi is undergoing a topical treatment for the cancerous growth. McKinney explained that the treatment is designed to “stimulate the giraffe’s own immune system to attack the tumour.” Remarkably, this marks the first time this specific treatment has been used on a giraffe, confirmed the zoo. It is important to note that the treatment has demonstrated effectiveness for other species.

The New York Zoo also stated that despite the tumor’s challenging location, Kipenzi is “eating well, behaving normally, and allowing animal care teams to treat the area.”

Kipenzi underwent a biopsy in August

The zoo revealed Kipenzi’s cancer diagnosis in a news release dated August 11, stating that she had undergone a biopsy, which yielded a positive result for cancer.

“Sadly, these biopsy results are not what we were hoping for, but I know the zoo’s dedicated and compassionate animal care team will continue to do all they can to ensure she remains comfortable and does not suffer,” stated Adam Bello, a Monroe County executive, at that time.