Wellington Zoo's eldest female giraffe Tisa has died at 26, after her health deteriorated following a check-up and hoof trim.
While the zoo was optimistic about her recovery after the procedure last Thursday, conducted under general anaesthetic, her health suffered due to "age related complications" and she died on Wednesday.
She refused to eat or drink in the days following the procedure.
General manager for animal care and science Mauritz Basson said she appeared weak and was showing signs of dehydration, and an emergency procedure was deemed necessary.
"As a last attempt to save Tisa's life, we decided to perform an emergency procedure under general anaesthetic Tuesday night, to run blood tests and give her fluids to treat her dehydration."
However this procedure was unsuccessful.
"Despite our best efforts to save her life, unfortunately Tisa did not recover from the anaesthetic Tuesday night and she passed way just before 1am Wednesday morning," Mr Basson says.
Thousands of zoo visitors had met her and she was a "much loved animal", staff said.
"Tisa was a kind animal and well loved by zoo staff, volunteers, and visitors alike and we are very sad she has gone" said herbivore keeper April Turnbull, who cared for Tisa for nearly three years.
"Many of our visitors have told us about their fondness for Tisa, as her gentle character really touched everyone who had the chance to meet and connect with her.
"Most mornings when I would walk up to the African Savannah to tend to the Giraffes, Tisa would stick her head over the barrier and rest her head on my shoulder."
"But you had to be careful when you were preparing the giraffe's breakfast in the service area with the door open, as Tisa would poke her head through and steal food off the bench when you weren't looking."
Tisa was born on October 18, 1990, and arrived at Wellington Zoo from Melbourne in May 1991. She was part of an international conservation breeding programme for giraffes.
She and her partner Ricky produced five offspring. Ricky has since died and one of their offspring, Zahara, still lives at Wellington Zoo with Tisa's granddaughter Zuri.
They are the only two giraffes at Wellington Zoo.
Tisa's body will be buried in line with Ministry for Primary Industries requirements.