Bobo the giraffe, who spent summers at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville, died unexpectedly on Monday at the farm.
"I was in the office, and one of the managers came running in and he said, ‘Bobo just fell on the ground,’ " said Melinda Novak, game farm president. "It happened that quickly."
The cause of death was heart failure, said the game farm’s veterinarian, Benjamin Haar. "Usually, that's why they end up dying, but he was kind of young," Haar said. The average life span of a giraffe is roughly 20 years, he said; Bobo was 3½. "I think he had genetically something going on, potentially," Haar said. A necropsy examination is being done and results may take several months, he said.
Bobo had also been under routine treatment for parasites, Novak said.
“I get here before anybody and check on the animals,” Novak said. Bobo, who was 12 feet tall, seemed fine when Novak arrived Monday morning, she said. “This was very unexpected. It’s really hard to talk about it. He’s so popular. Everybody knows him. The staff are just beside themselves.”
The game farm announced Bobo’s death publicly on Tuesday, calling Bobo "beloved" and a "fixture at the park."
Bobo was the farm’s only giraffe. Visitors to the farm could feed him lettuce and carrots if they purchased tickets to the Giraffe Encounter, or they could just admire him from afar.
Bobo had been spending summers at the farm since 2021. He spent winters in South Carolina and was set to return south in mid-October, Novak said. “It’s not uncommon for zoos to have an animal on loan until they could afford to purchase it. We just had Bobo’s Bon Voyage party,” Novak said. It was a fundraiser in mid-September, and the proceeds had been planned to help purchase Bobo as well as a second giraffe and to build a heated, year-round home for them at the game farm, she said.
“We really are devastated for sure,” said farm educator Sue Brooks. “Bobo and I, I always thought we had a special bond. I actually would take my fingers and point them toward my eyes and say, ‘Look at me, look at me.’ He would take those great soulful eyes of his and look into my eyes. It was just a wonderful connection with an animal.”
Brooks called Bobo a “wonderful ambassador” for the game farm. “He was majestic. He was calm. He was very receptive to people. We were so lucky to have him.”
Novak said she’s not sure yet whether any memorial or service will be planned.