Internet star baby giraffe Kipenzi dies in accident at Dallas zoo

Kipenzi's birth was watched by nearly four million people

Internet-Famous Baby Giraffe Kipenzi Dies Instantly in Dallas Zoo Accident
A baby giraffe, whose birth was watched by nearly four million people on TV and online, died instantly during an accident at a zoo in Dallas.

Kipenzi, who was named for the Swahili phrase "loved one" in an online poll, broke her neck in three places while scampering around a yard separate from the giant savanna that the zoo's 12 other giraffes occupy.

Kipenzi's mother, Katie, was allowed to visit the calf's body before veterinarians and zookeepers removed it from the enclosure.

Zookeepers were routinely shifting the herd into their night barn when the calf began to scamper about the feeding yard and the tragic accident occurred, according to a statement from the zoo.

Harrison Edell, the zoo's senior director of living collections, said it was "typical" for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones, to run around and roam.

He said: "It's heartbreaking that this happened where it did, despite our precautions."

"We're crushed, and everyone here is mourning"

The popular animal did not enter the zoo's giraffe yard until May 1, when she publicly debuted alongside her mother and 'Uncle' Auggie.

Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo, said: "This is a huge loss for our giraffe herd, our staff and our guests. To be honest, it hurts terribly. We're crushed, and everyone here is mourning."

Kipenzi's birth on April 10 was live-streamed on Giraffe Birth Live on Animal Planet's website and it drew more than two million viewers.

The Giraffe Birth Live TV special on Animal Planet drew about 1.4 million viewers, reports the Daily Mail.