Matilda the oldest Rothschild's giraffe at Hampshire's Marwell Zoo dies aged 25

Matilda was born at the zoo in January 1997 to parents Dribbles and Harry. Credit: Marwell/Jason Brown

Marwell Zoo has announced the death of its oldest Rothschild's giraffe, Matilda, at the age of 25.

The animal was born at the zoo in January 1997 to parents Dribbles and Harry.

She is said to have "played a huge role in the conservation of her species and birthed seven calves".

Matilda was the first giraffe born at Marwell Zoo entirely of Rothschild’s parentage, a subspecies of the animal.

The zoo says Matilda had an onset of symptoms thought to be age-related.

Because of her condition, the vet and animal teams made the "difficult decision to prevent further suffering" and euthanise her on Wednesday afternoon, June 8.

In captivity, a giraffe can live for between 20 and 25 years.

Marwell Zoo says at 25, her age is a "testament to the excellent care and attention she received from her keepers".

"She will be sadly missed by the Marwell team," they added.

The zoo's Rothschild giraffes during feeding time in November 2020. Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

Animal collection Manager, Ian Goodwin, said: "I was fortunate enough to be there the day Matilda was born 25 years ago.

"From the minute she stood up and looked over you could see there was something unique about her and she continued to endear herself to staff, visitors and anyone who met her.

"She always made us smile, from the sneaky way she used to get herself in different positions to get extra food to acting as if she were the leader of the herd.

"She had a relaxed way of doing everything in her own time and somehow managing to get staff to do things on her terms. 

"Matilda was a prominent member of the giraffe herd and a great mother.

"Her unique character will be missed within the giraffe herd and by many others.

"My morning stroll through the giraffe house will not be the same without her."