Kili’s Untimely Passing

The 10th of December was a day of devastation and heartbreak here at the Nursery

The 10th of December was a day of devastation and heartbreak here at the Nursery.  Our beloved Kili who has captured the imagination of so many people around the globe died.  It is a long and convoluted story, but his untimely passing has blindsided us all and it is with heavy heart that I have to share this news with all of those who around the world have taken Kili into their hearts.


Kili had been off colour for a while necessitating a number of veterinary visits to treat him and take blood for closer monitoring.  Not an easy task with a giraffe.  While his blood readings showed nothing too alarming he had definitely not been himself recently.

This was further amplified by extraordinary events on the 18th of November when Kili in broad daylight at 1.00pm, while in the company of three baby elephants and the Keepers, was leapt upon by a lioness and flung to the ground. The Keepers bravely intervened screaming and shouting with arms flailing and managed to terrify the lioness enough to save Kili’s life as she bounded into the undergrowth leaving her prey. Kili was extremely shaken and had claw marks on his legs but appeared fairly unscathed given how potentially disastrous it could have been. What we did not know then is that it was the catalyst to the further decline of Kili who after that incident became so traumatized that he was never the same again, both physically and more notably psychologically.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident Kili seemed dazed and confused as we inspected him closely in the sanctity of his stockade.  We gave him rescue remedy for the shock and he took his feeds as normal. We kept him safely in his stockade for the coming days worried that the lioness and her pride could still be in the vicinity. Soon after Kili began to show the psychological wounds by refusing to exit his new sky scraper stable that had been custom built for him. He simply loved his new stable and felt totally safe there.


The Keepers would open his stable door at 6.00am and while the elephants would all exuberantly charge around embracing the day, Kili would sometimes take until 9.00am to exit his stable choosing to rest up in there until he was ready. We decided not to interfere with what he wanted to do so as not to pressurize him. He became equally addicted to his day stockade, a larger confined area with two doors. One of these doors leads out into the forest and the Park beyond, but Kili remained reluctant to venture out, even though we had made red shuka dust jackets for the Keepers on Kili duty to hopefully deter any lions. The lions of Nairobi Park are sometimes hunted by the Masai when there is conflict with the Masai and their livestock on the Kitengela plains beyond the Park’s one unfenced boundary and so have instinctively become very frightened of the Masai over the years whose traditional dress is the red Shuka.

There were days where Kili would be in the Park with his Keepers and orphaned elephant friends along with little Pea and Pod his ostrich companions, when suddenly he would gallop back to his stockade for no apparent reason. He was off his food and not eating as he should either and his stools were on occasion loose. Veterinary intervention treated these symptoms but Kili still remained below par.

Kili was diagnosed with chronic enteritis, which was not responding to medication, and dehydration which resulted in an electrolyte imbalance weakening the heart causing hypoyolemia; low blood volume. On the 9th of December things were really bad, and he was not feeding at all, not on greens, his milk, or even water.

Giraffe’s favorite food was collected from the Park to try to tempt him to eat and wild giraffe dung was collected to try and help with Kili’s obvious stomach issues and help replenish his stomach flora. After 24 hours of Kili refusing to feed and a very disturbed night with Kili clearly in much stomach discomfort the Vet decided to place Kili on a much needed drip, but with low blood pressure his jugular vein all but collapsed and Kili passed away in the Vets arms.


To make sense of events is difficult as it is all so unexpected and extremely sad, and particularly as up until a few weeks ago Kili was thriving.  He had become such an integral part of our Nursery Unit life and a friend to all and in our wildest dreams we never imagined Kili’s story would end this way.  He has etched a special place in all our hearts, and we are devastated to have to write Kili’s obituary today.