media banner with flamingo picture

quick links


Posted by Tara Henson on 04/08/2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                              April 8, 2014


CONTACTS:  Tara Henson:  (405) 425-0219, office; (405) 919-9038, cell; or [email protected]

                     Candice Rennels:  (405) 425-0298, office; (405) 412-6172, cell; or [email protected]




Kyah, a 6-month-old female giraffe born at the Oklahoma City Zoo on September 26, 2013, died April 8, 2014, when attempts to repair what Zoo animal care staff and a team of veterinarians at Oklahoma State University believed was a persistent right aortic arch (PRAA) were unsuccessful.


The PRAA is an abnormal blood vessel coming from the heart that constricts the esophagus, preventing solid food from passing from her mouth to her stomach.


“The surgery was risky but critical because her mother, Ellie, was trying to wean her and she wouldn’t have thrived without the ability to eat solid foods,” said Dr. Jennifer D’Agostino, Zoo director of veterinary services. "Although there were many risks, the surgery was her only chance to survive."


Kyah was taken to Oklahoma State University's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences in Stillwater.  Performing the surgery was OSU Veterinary Surgeon Mark Rochat. Dr. Rochat has performed about a dozen similar surgeries on smaller animals such as dogs, cats and a cougar. He was assisted by OSU Veterinary Surgeons Drs. Danielle Dugat and Michael Schoonover, veterinary surgery and anesthesia technicians, as well as the Zoo’s five-person veterinary team.


The condition is more commonly seen in dogs and cats. This is the first known example of a giraffe with a persistent right aortic arch.  The procedure involved opening her chest cavity to locate the problem area. Despite nearly four hours of surgery, Kyah had to be humanely euthanized when attempts to repair the defect were unsuccessful. A routine necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed as is standard protocol.


"The Zoo family is grateful to our colleagues at OSU's Veterinary Medical Hospital for their expertise and hard work," said Dr. D'Agostino.  "We knew going into this procedure that Kyah's chances were extremely low and we felt we gave her every chance possible to thrive.  Collaborations such as these also allow us to learn more about the species in our care."


If you would like to share your memories of Kyah, please visit the Zoo's Facebook fan page at








Association of Zoos and AquariumsOklahoma City's Adventure DistrictBest Zoos at 10Best.comDr Pepper 23     Central Oklahoma Frontier country

© 2009 Oklahoma City Zoo. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | 2101 NE 50th St. Oklahoma City, OK 73111 • 405-424-3344
Website designed by Back40 Design & managed by Javelin CMS

The Zoo is a fully accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the American Association of Museums (AAM) as both a living museum and a botanical garden. AZA accredited facilities are dedicated to providing excellent care for their plants and animals, a great experience for guests and a better future for all living things.

A New Breath of Fresh Air: As of Nov. 1, 2007, state law prohibits smoking inside zoological parks. Please help us abide by this law by refraining from smoking within the Zoo. Thank you for maintaining a smoke-free environment for all living things!