Panama City Beach is mourning the loss of a familiar icon. For 20 years, Zoo World's lovable giraffe, Sydney, has greeted passersby on front beach road as he peeked his head over the tall gate.
When the news broke of Sydney's passing, News 13's Facebook page filled with pictures, videos and written memories.
Many can remember a special moment they've shared with this sweet animal and they say, without him, things just won't be the same.
These are the shared experiences of countless others who've grown to love Sydney--the gentle giant thrilled young and old alike for 20 years.
Many can't remember a time without him.
Now cards, flowers and pictures create a make shift memorial at the gate enclosure that once housed a familiar face for the skyline of Panama City Beach. For those who've driven by over 20 years, they say not seeing Sydney peek over the tall gates will leave a void that can't be filled.
"Everybody right now is very sad. It's been a very sad day. People drive by here seeing him stick his head over the top everyday. So, a lot of people in the community are going to miss Sidney," said Zoo World Assistant Director, Tom Walling.
Walling had a heavy heart, Tuesday, seeing the empty enclosure that has brought so much joy, especially to children who are already missing their friend.
"The first thing they wanted to do was draw pictures and put post cards out," said Walling.
For budding veterinarian, Kimber Brown, who has volunteered at Zoo World for several years, Sydney has been part of her daily life since age 6.
"I remember the zoo my whole life," said Brown.
She couldn't help but tear up at the loss.
"It's pretty sad. Every morning, even on my way here or if I'm just going by, I still see if Sydney is outside. It's going to be different because, it's like I might still look, but I'm not going to see Sydney anymore," said Brown.
Sydney was 23 years old. Zoo world says they are looking into bringing in other giraffes, but for now, they are missing the friend who's been in their lives since he was three years old.