- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A female giraffe born four days earlier was found dead Sunday at Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo.

“It’s like a funeral around here today,” owner Dan Franklin said.

He said the baby appeared healthy Saturday night but was dead when staffers arrived Sunday.

Dozens of people left sympathy messages after the death was announced on the zoo’s Facebook site.

Franklin said in a phone interview that he couldn’t tell what caused the death, and sent the giraffe’s body to Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine for necropsy.

A contest to name the giraffe will continue, and the zoo will put up a marker with her name.

The baby was born Wednesday evening to Patches and the father was Tall Boy.

Franklin said the baby was Patches’ seventh; two males died in the first weeks but one male and three females survived.

Giraffes have high mortality in their first week, Franklin said.

Giraffes give birth standing up, so the newborns fall six feet to the ground.

Franklin said the two males that died both were weak from the start and died of digestive problems.

“Normally, when they’re born they’re up and running within 30 minutes,” he said. “Those two, they didn’t do that.”

The female, though, was up quickly. She was standing next to her mother during Saturday evening’s animal check, Franklin said.

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