Hodari, Beloved Giraffe at Turtle Back Zoo Has Died


WEST ORANGE, NJ - Hodari, one of the giraffes at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo died during a medical procedure June 1. Hodari was one of four giraffes in the zoo's African Adventure area.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Hodari. On behalf of Turtle Back's staff, we cannot express how great this loss is," Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said. "The Giraffe Exhibit quickly became Turtle Back Zoo's most popular attraction, and it was because of Hodari. He was the giraffe that was most comfortable being fed by the public, so our visitors became acquainted with him the most," he added.

Hodari stood 18 feet tall and was 11 years old. Zoo staff noticed him exhibiting strange behavior a few weeks ago. The procedure became necessary when zoo staff observed the 11-year-old Hodari exhibiting strange behavior. During a visual inspection, Turtle Back's veterinarian Dr. Jon Bergmann noticed something was wrong with the teeth in the back of the giraffe's mouth. About three weeks ago, Hodari was put under anesthesia so the veterinarian and a dental specialist could get a better look at the problem. Hodari awoke from the first exam without any negative effects. However, when he was placed under anesthesia the second time so the procedure could be done, he experienced complications. The results of a necropsy to determine the actual cause of death will not be known for about a month.

Sign Up for E-News

"We observed that Hodari was having difficulty eating and decided performing the procedure would prevent further complications from occurring in the future," Dr. Bergmann said. "We believed this would give Hodari a better quality of life, improve his overall health and allow him to continue to thrive at Turtle Back Zoo. We knew there were risks when putting an animal of Hodari's size under anesthesia, but we also knew repairing his teeth would be more beneficial for him," he added.

Hodari was one of four Masai giraffes who came to Turtle Back Zoo in December 2015 as part of the new three-acre Giraffe House in the African Adventure area. Hodari came from South Carolina; the other three giraffes came from Florida and San Diego. The exhibit also features animals found in the African savanna - eland, whistling ducks, ostrich and tortoises. The exhibit is the largest at Turtle Back Zoo and cost about $7 million to develop.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Agents of Change: Women in NJ History


Wed, March 21, 5:00 PM

The Lobby, Elizabeth

GECC Business After Hours March 21

Business & Finance Food & Drink

Teacher Training at Trailside

March 12, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ  - Teacher Training programs at Trailside will be offered this spring for teachers of students in Kindergarten through grade twelve starting March 15.

Project WET, a teacher training program for teachers K – 12 will be offered on Thurs. March 15 from 9 a.m.. to 3 p.m.  This workshop will provide the necessary tools, resources, and lessons for teachers ...

Daylight Savings Time Begins this Weekend - Remember to Turn Your Clocks Forward

ELIZABETH, NJ - The winter months are about to come to an end. You know spring is definitely around the corner when Daylight Savings Time begins. A reminder to everyone to turn your clocks forward one hour tonight when you go to bed. Daylight Savings time officially begins at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. 

While many will dread losing that hour of sleep, that extra hour of daylight will be ...

Elizabeth Rotary to Hold “Pancakes to the Beat” Fundraiser

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Rotary Club of Elizabeth is holding their 44th Annual Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, March 24 from 8 a.m. to noon in the cafeteria at Victor Mravlag School #21, located at 132 Shelly Avenue, Elizabeth.  

Entertainment will be provided by School #21’s, Third Grade Recorder Ensemble. Tickets are $8 and include a full pancake and sausage breakfast. The ...

23-year-old Linden Man Indicted for First Degree Murder

March 13, 2018

LINDEN, NJ - A Linden resident has been indicted for the fatal daylight shooting of a 27-year-old Linden man late last year, prosecutors announced Monday.

According to the Union County Prosecutor's Office, Shansey Abernathy was charged with first-degree murder and two related second-degree weapons offenses in connection with the death of Alphonso Pearson.

The Union County ...

Totowa Rapper Accused of Trying to Bring Loaded Gun Through Security at Newark Airport

March 12, 2018

NEWARK, N.J. – Rapper Juelz Santana, a resident of Totowa, faces weapon charges after allegedly trying to get a loaded firearm through security at Newark Liberty International Airport, according to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.

The rapper, whose real name is LaRon L. James, 36, surrendered to police this morning. He has been charged with  one count of possession of a firearm by a ...

Still Searching - A Follow Up on the Boxer Found in Roselle is Owner from Elizabeth?

March 5, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - A call to all surrounding towns. Is this Your dog? The search continues for the owners of a female boxer found on East 7th Ave. near Chandler Ave. and given to Roselle police on Feb. 16. The dog was transported to the Newark Humane Society and was put on hold for the owner to claim. 

The hold time has expired and the dog has not been claimed. She was transferred to the ...

Law Enforcement Against Drugs( L.E.A.D.) Hosts 21st Century Drug and Violence Prevention Training Conference and Marijuana Symposium Featuring National Leaders and International Experts

March 16, 2018

United States Associate Deputy Attorney General Steven H. Cook to Give Keynote Address at

21st Century Drug and Violence Prevention Training Conference and Marijuana Symposium

Featuring National Leaders and International Experts

March 18-20, 2018 In Atlantic City, Hosted By L.E.A.D.


Hear about DOJ drug crime policies

Critical topics for New Jersey:  How To Address ...