When an orphaned baby giraffe was rescued by The Rhino Orphanage, an animal rescue sanctuary in South Africa, the shelter’s resident guard dog, Hunter, quickly bonded with the new arrival.
When the malnourished youngster, whom rescuers named Jazz, was nursed back to health, the guard dog kept watch. When the baby giraffe slept, Hunter curled up nearby. When Jazz struggled to eat, the worried dog refused mealtime, too, only to resume eating once Jazz was feeling better. Their adorable bond quickly went viral.
So, this odd couple’s legions of Internet fans were understandably devasted when The Rhino Orphanage released some heartbreaking news. “Our Team is heartbroken as we announce that our beautiful, brave boy, Jazz the giraffe, passed away,” rescuers wrote on Facebook. “The last 2 days before we lost him, Jazz started looking unstable on his legs and very dull, almost like he wasn’t registering everything. He suddenly collapsed and we could see blood starting to pool back into his eyes.”
When the baby giraffe’s heart rate dropped and Jazz started showing neurological symptoms, everybody began to fear the worst. “His friend Hunter knew something was wrong as he suddenly stayed by the giraffe’s side again not going outside,” rescuers wrote. “Jazz took his last breath with Hunter and all his human mommies by his side.”
Veterinary reports determined that the baby giraffe suffered from hyphema (blood pooling in his eyes) and brain hemorrhaging, which could stem from a genetic defect or an underdeveloped valve system. “He couldn’t regulate blood pressure to his brain and therefore bleeding between the ventricles occurred,” rescuers wrote sadly of the group effort to restore Jazz’s health. “All our efforts were in vain.”
Even so, shelter staff took some comfort in the knowledge that Jazz may not have been technically abandoned, but rather left behind by a mother simply ill-equipped to care for her sick baby. “So we finally know that Jazz didn’t have a bad giraffe mother that left him, she just knew,” they wrote. “As proven to us so many times before, nature’s mothers know. But we still have to try every single time no matter how hard it is.”
Unfortunately, nobody took Jazz’s death harder than Hunter, who refused to leave Jazz’s side during his final moments and later insisted on guarding the baby giraffe’s former room. “He sat in front of Jazz’s empty room for a while and then went to our carers for comfort,” rescuers wrote of the loyal dog. “We will update everyone on his progress as he can now get back to training to be a tracking dog. He is eating well and playing with his brother again. Such a good boy.”
Despite this heartbreaking turn, everybody is grateful for the short time they had with Jazz, even if his recovery didn’t progress as planned. “RIP Jazz the Giraffe,” rescuers wrote. “You have taught us so much in the last 3 weeks and we will remember you fondly.”