Niabi Zoo has lost one of its most popular and beloved residents.

According to a release, Twiga, a sixteen-year-old female Southern Nubian Giraffe, passed away January 3 from a degenerative neurological disease of the brain and spinal cord. Twiga, then one, originally came to Niabi Zoo in 2007 from the Palm Beach Zoo. She would have been seventeen in March. “Twiga was an extraordinary member of our zoo family, beloved by her keepers and our guests alike,” Niabi Zoo Director Lee Jackson said.

Kristina Stump with Southern Nubian Giraffe Twiga (photo: Niabi Zoo)

“She was always eager to interact with keepers for training sessions, and endeared herself to countless guests through her interactions with them at public feedings and through the creation of her artwork,” Kristina Stump, one of Twiga’s caregivers, said. “As someone who has worked closely with her for fifteen years, my hope is that her interactions with the people of the Quad Cities instilled in them a passion for giraffes that will benefit the conservation of the species, ensuring that her legacy will endure.”

Niabi Zoo, located at 13010 Niabi Zoo Rd., Coal Valley, allows guests to learn about and enjoy more than 600 animals from around the world. It will be open for the 2023 regular admission season starting April 17. For more information, click here.