Lehigh Valley

Mourners deliver flowers in memory of Ernie the giraffe

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - The Lehigh Valley Zoo said Ernie the giraffe banged his neck and head against a wall in the hours leading up to his death.

The Zoo's CEO and President, Melissa Borland, said they won't know the official cause of death until the autopsy is complete.

Ernie died on Sunday, just days after he arrived in the Lehigh Valley.

Morland said Ernie and his father Murphy came to the Lehigh Valley Zoo from the Kansas City Zoo but soon after arriving Ernie began exhibiting aggressive behavior towards Murphy.

Morland said zoo staff separated the two giraffes into separate stalls on Saturday night but when they arrived at work on Sunday morning "he was slumped over and that's when we discovered something there was going on," she said.

Moreland said the zoo quickly summoned a veterinarian to treat Ernie but he died several hours later.

Ernie and Murphy had lived together at Kansas City Zoo before being transported to the Lehigh Valley.

"It's a tragedy, nobody is happy about it," said Sean Putnam, Animal Curator at the Kansas City Zoo.

"I know they are feeling horrible. Our staff is feeling horrible about it," he said.

Animal lovers are also mourning Ernie's loss by bringing flowers and balloons to hang outside of the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

"My true love is animals," said Brenda Faust who brought a bouquet of flowers to the zoo in Ernie's memory.

"I didn't want them to bring giraffes here because it's not their natural habitat," she said.

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