WARSAW, Poland – Tofik, a male giraffe who won sympathy in Poland after hoodlums vandalized an area near his enclosure, has died during surgery for digestive problems, zoo officials said Monday.
The 5-year-old Rothschild giraffe died Sunday, said Magdalena Janiszewska, the head of the zoo in Lodz, some 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of Warsaw. His stomach condition is believed to not be related to the attack.
The loss is particularly poignant for the zoo. Two female giraffes that were with Tofik in his enclosure during the May attack died of complications because of the stress.
"It is a very bad year for us," she said. "It is hard not to talk of bad luck."
The endangered animals earned widespread media attention and compassion in Poland after hooligans tossed garbage cans and benches near their enclosure — frightening the normally skittish animals. In a nation that loves its creatures, the public were horrified that anyone would attack helpless zoo specimens.
After Tofik was left alone, zoo officials brought in three other giraffes to mate with him and keep him company, hoping that it would help his recovery. They had been doing well until he fell ill.
The new management, appointed after the May attack revealed shortcomings in the zoo security, would like to bring in a new male in due time, Janiszewska said.