LI Game Farm giraffe’s death tied to poor conditions and malnutrition, USDA


An energy deficient diet and chilly temperatures contributed to the death of a 3-year-old giraffe at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville in early October, according to a USDA inspection report.

Additionally, Bobo the giraffe had been suffering for months with a “heavy parasite load and poor body condition for approximately 2 months,” the report states. In the days after the animal’s death, the Game Farm reported that the calf “died unexpectedly of heart failure.”

The Game Farm noted at the time that Bobo had been under routine care with the facility’s veterinarian.

The USDA’s necropsy of the animal showed that multiple locations of his body “displayed serous atrophy of fat.”

“Such findings are associated with death in giraffes due to energy deficient diets and colder temperatures,” the report stated. “Higher-energy feeds and temperature-controlled barns are
associated with an increased survival of giraffes in such conditions.”

The USDA inspector said the Game Farm’s barn had a heater affixed near the ceiling, but did not have surrounding insulation, chest-level heating, or a temperature gauge inside the shelter. Regarding Bobo’s diet during the months he was sick, the USDA report noted that malnutrition was discovered during necropsy of Bobo’s body, and that it “may be attributed to the energy deficient diet.”

“The facility was following feeding instructions from the giraffe’s owner, which included lettuce, carrots, 2nd cut hay, and a pelleted diet,” the February report said. “The giraffe’s regular diet did not include high-energy browse.”

In the wake of the report, Humane Long Island is filing complaints with the Suffolk County Department of Health and the IRS regarding a “Bon Voyage Party” they say exploited the ailing giraffe in his final weeks of life.

The Game Farm hosted Bobo’s Bon Voyage Party on Sept. 16 and called it “a great success.”

“Bobo’s Bon Voyage Party was a celebration of the game farm’s beloved giraffe who will be heading south for the winter in early October,” the Game Farm said in a press release following the party. “Funds from the event will be used for the construction of a heated giraffe house that can support two of these gentle giants year-round.”

Bobo never made the trip south. He died during the first week of October.

“The Long Island Game Farm’s Foundation for Wildlife Sustainability, Inc. … hosted this party to raise funds to build infrastructure for Long Island Game Farm’s for-profit business,” Humane Long Island said in a statement today. “It is indisputably a violation of the Internal Revenue Service Code for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to raise money for a “for profit” business.

“Allowing public contact between guests and sick animals who may transmit zoonotic disease or parasites to children is a violation of Suffolk County Health Code and its petting zoo permit,” the statement continued.

John Di Leonardo, an anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island, said he believes that “Bobo essentially starved and froze until his premature death.”

“In the wild, Bobo would have roamed up to 100 square miles of African grasslands and open woodlands, shared a complex social life with a herd of his own species for as long as 25 years, and spent many hours of the day and night browsing for leaves, shoots and fruits from tall trees,” he said. “Abducted from his family and leased for public interactions, Bobo died alone, confined to a cramped enclosure without any other giraffes or even a tree.”

Greater Long Island contacted a Game Farm spokesperson for comment, but a statement from the business was not released by time of publication.

The USDA said in its report that the Game Farm must adapt an appropriate feeding plan and update its the barn to account for the local climatic conditions before obtaining another giraffe.

USDA Inspection report

Below is the USDA inspection report regarding the giraffe’s death.

Top photo: Teri Leidner and Bobo (supplied by the Long Island Game Farm).

Our Local Supporters