Benghazi the giraffe, Oakland Zoo artist and movie star, dies at 23

Undated handout photo courtesy of the Oakland Zoo of Benghazi the giraffe. Benghazi, also known as B
Benghazi, or Ben, who was born at the Oakland Zoo in 1996, was euthanized Wednesday after the lingering effects of a back injury made it too difficult for him to rest comfortably, officials said.
(Oakland Zoo)

Benghazi the giraffe — an artist, movie star and longtime Oakland Zoo resident — has died after a year of suffering from a back injury. He was 23.

The Oakland Zoo announced on social media Thursday that the animal was euthanized this week. The giraffe, nicknamed Ben, was born at the zoo in 1996. He had celebrated a birthday just six weeks before his death.

He had been suffering from lower back and sacrum injuries, which staff members at the zoo think he suffered while getting up from sleeping or lying down. It was getting difficult for the big animal to rest comfortably, zoo officials said.

“We did all we could — chiropractic treatments, medication, laser treatments, and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy. Unfortunately this type of injury is not reversible, and Benghazi’s mobility declined,” Jessica Chapman, lead giraffe keeper, said in a statement.


Ben was trained at a young age to create paintings that were sold to support giraffe conservation in the wild.
(Oakland Zoo)

Ben was an artist, trained at a young age to create paintings that were auctioned to support giraffe conservation in the wild, zoo officials said.

Many of his family members, including siblings, nieces and nephews, lived with Ben at the zoo. His mother, T’Keyah, another longtime zoo member, died in 2017 when she was 28.

The average lifespan for a reticulated giraffe in captivity is 25 years, according to the Conservation Society of California, which manages the Oakland Zoo.


Ben had a large personality that was matched only by his height. At 16 feet tall, he was the second-tallest giraffe at the zoo, SFGate reported.

His height came in handy when he was chosen to be featured in a 2017 National Geographic documentary called “Last of the Longnecks,” in which he had a GoPro camera strapped to his head to show his perspective, the news site reported.

Twitter: @r_valejandra

Get our Essential California newsletter