Hummer, the giraffe, died at the National Zoo & Aquarium over the weekend, a month out from his 20th birthday.
Hummer arrived in Canberra from Monarto Zoo – south-west of Adelaide – in 2004, and his personality quickly made an impact on zookeepers.
“The same way pets or people have very different personalities, these guys are like that,” Katie Ness, who had been looking after Hummer for the past nine years, said at his 19th birthday last year.
“Hummer is quite strong-headed and can have a bit of an attitude with people when he wants to.”
He was also quite big for a giraffe, standing about 5.5 metres tall, just shy of a giraffe in Queensland who made the Guinness Book of World Records at a height of 5.7 metres.
The zoo said Hummer did not suffer before he died as he approached his life expectancy. Giraffes in captivity live between 20 and 25 years.
“We take heart in the fact that he lived a long, happy life while receiving the best possible care and love from all of our dedicated staff, members and visitors,” the zoo said in a statement.
“Hummer was a fantastic ambassador for his species, educating and inspiring the public of the plight of wild giraffe and the challenges they face.
“He was adored by his keepers, guides and all zoo staff, as well as by hundreds of thousands of visitors and members.”
Hummer, whose full name was Humbekhali, quickly became known by his new moniker after the zoo’s backup vehicle which accompanied his transit to the National Zoo from South Australia almost two decades ago.