POWELL -- It’s double the excitement in the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Heart of Africa region, where a second Masai giraffe calf was born on Aug. 27 at 7:48 p.m.
The Animal Care team, who observed the birth via mounted camera in the giraffe barn, reported the female calf born to 19-year-old mother, Jana, appears to be strong and energetic.
The calf was already fully standing and nursing shortly after birth. The care team also observed the calf testing out her “running” (or “zoomies”) skills early the next morning.
Jana’s calf arrived almost exactly two months after mother, Zuri, gave birth to her male calf on June 28. Zuri’s calf continues to be doing well and recently made his public debut. Jana’s calf has also had access to a behind-the-scenes yard adjacent to the barn and has been exploring. Both calves are currently unnamed, and the zoo will provide updates as they become available.
“These births are extremely significant, as these calves play a huge role in protecting the future of the endangered Masai giraffe. With the increasing challenges that Masai giraffes continue to face in their native range, it’s more important than ever to do our part to help them," said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO Tom Stalf.
"I am incredibly proud of our team for their expertise, care, contributions made to the zoological community, and the wonderful experiences they provide to our supportive community as together we remain committed to the conservation of wildlife around the globe,” Stalf said.
The father of the calves is 10-year-old Enzi, who arrived at the Columbus Zoo in 2013 after first being at The Wilds and the Toledo Zoo, where he was born. Jana was born at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and arrived at the Columbus Zoo from Zoo New England in 2017. She is an experienced mother, and this calf is her seventh surviving calf. Nineteen giraffes have been born at the Columbus Zoo over the course of its history.
The pairings of Jana and Enzi and Zuri and Enzi were recommended by the Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program coordinated by the AZA to maintain genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.
In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Masai giraffe subspecies as endangered as the population has fallen by nearly 50 percent over the last three decades. There are estimated to be only 35,000 Masai giraffes remaining due to various factors, including habitat loss, civil unrest/military operations, poaching and ecological changes.
The Columbus Zoo is a supporter of several direct giraffe conservation initiatives and has raised a total of $242,646 for giraffe projects since 2009. The Zoo also previously provided a one-time $56,679 grant to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation through the Zoo’s Wine for Wildlife Fund-A-Need.
Additionally, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado are the co-founders of the giraffe plasma bank and, along with several other collaborating zoos, work to consistently collect large volumes of plasma from giraffes to send to animals in need of a transfusion.
These plasma transfusions have been responsible for assisting in saving the lives of several young giraffes across the country as the vital antibodies and critical proteins in the plasma help provide a life-saving boost to calves’ immune systems. Collection of the plasma is the result of the hard work and dedication of the Animal Care and Animal Health teams who have trained members of the giraffe herd to participate in these large volume blood collections completely awake and voluntarily.
Guests won’t yet be able to view Jana and her new calf; however, guests can still see other members of the herd—including Zuri and her calf, though there is not a set viewing schedule as Zuri and her calf determine when they spend time outside. Guests can also opt to participate in $3 giraffe feedings from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily to receive an up close, memorable experience.
For more information about animals, wildlife experiences, and other happenings at the Columbus Zoo, be sure to follow the Zoo’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit ColumbusZoo.org.