The Los Angeles Zoo has exciting news to share from its Masai giraffe herd – a healthy male calf has made its public debut. The unnamed calf weighs in at 174 pounds and stands at six-foot-four-inches. He was born to 12-year-old female, Zainabu, and 11-year-old male, Philip.
“We were happy to have a safe and healthy delivery of the newest arrival to our giraffe herd. He was standing, walking and nursing within 90 minutes after birth!” said Mike Bona, animal keeper at Los Angeles Zoo. “The L.A. Zoo strives to give our guests the opportunity to witness the development of a giraffe calf into an adult. These experiences help deepen their connection to wildlife and provides an opportunity to learn about the efforts that go into Masai giraffe conservation.”
Female giraffes are in gestation for about 15 months before giving birth to a single calf. The calf grows about three feet in the first year and attains its full height at five to seven years of age. The L.A. Zoo has a long, successful history of breeding giraffes. The new calf was born as a result of a pairing recommendation made by the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program between Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos to maintain genetic diversity and sustainability in the North American zoo population.
Masai giraffes are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Masai giraffe populations have declined 50 percent in the last 30 years. The biggest threats to the Masai giraffe population are habitat loss and illegal hunting. Masai Giraffes are poached for meat and products such as hide, bones, and tail hairs.
Masai giraffes range across central and southern Kenya and throughout Tanzania, Africa. They are identified by their lacy-edged or irregular spot pattern; each giraffe has a unique pattern. Masai giraffes grow up to 18 feet tall and weigh 2,700 pounds, making them the largest giraffe species and the tallest land mammal. Their necks make up roughly one third of their body height and are used by males to determine mating privileges.
Guests are invited to view the calf and the rest of the herd at their habitat located in the Africa section of the Zoo, weather permitting.