The Wellington Zoo's male giraffe Seun died after an operation to cure a painful hoof condition.

Seun, 6, was being treated by the veterinary team at The Nest Te Ko hanga for laminitis, a hoof ailment, the zoo said in a statement.

Seun had an infected toe on his right hoof, and after consultation the zoo veterinarians decided to remove the infected toe.

The procedure had never been done before on a giraffe, but has been used on cattle, according to the zoo. However, Seun did not recover from the anaesthetic used and died yesterday afternoon.


"We have lost a special animal. Seun was well loved by Zoo staff, volunteers, and visitors alike and his passing gives us great sadness," said Wellington Zoo Chief Executive Karen Fifield in a statement.

"Giraffes are notoriously difficult to anaesthetise and although we gave him the best chance we could, Seun did not survive the procedure, which was more than five hours long."

Seun came to the Wellington Zoo from Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch in 2008.

"We are grateful for the expert assistance that Dr Vicki Walsh, a specialist veterinary anaesthetist and her team from Massey University provided today during the procedure," Fifield said. "We are also thankful for advice and assistance provided today by Massey University's Dr Angela Hartman, Dr Jim Schumache, Dr Richard Laven, Dr Stu Hunter, and their respective teams."