CUMBERLAND – The Wilds is celebrating the birth of a male Masai giraffe calf, who was born in the pasture at 11:05 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2020.
Animal Management staff continues to monitor the calf and notes that he appears to be strong and is staying close to his mother, Lulu.
The calf’s father, Raha, was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in April 2006 and arrived at The Wilds in 2009, where he has since sired eight calves. Lulu was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in October 2012 and has lived at The Wilds since 2014. Lulu is an experienced mother, and this calf is her second.
The breeding of Raha and Lulu was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program designed to increase the genetic health and diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care.
This calf is the 19th giraffe calf to be born at the conservation center. The birth is a significant achievement as the Masai giraffe’s conservation status, which was previously listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, was changed to “endangered” in 2019.
The population of this giraffe subspecies is estimated to have plummeted by nearly 50 percent over three decades primarily due to habitat degradation and poaching, and there are now only approximately 35,000 Masai giraffe remaining in their native ranges in southern Kenya and north and central Tanzania.
In an effort to reduce threats to giraffes, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds support several conservation projects in giraffe range countries across Africa, including Wild Nature Institute’s Serengeti Giraffe Conservation Research project based in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, the Giraffe Research and Conservation Trust in Kenya, and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia and Uganda, as well as provide support for a giraffe specific initiative through the Hirola Conservation Programme in Kenya.
“The birth of this endangered Masai giraffe calf is cause for celebration, especially as we know that giraffes need our help more than ever. We remain committed to making a direct and positive impact on protecting wildlife and wild places, and inspiring our guests to join us in taking action to preserve the future of giraffes and other species,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO Tom Stalf.
“We are extremely proud of the success of our breeding program. This giraffe calf is not only adorable but also represents a wonderful achievement as we continue working collaboratively with other conservation organizations in saving Masai giraffes,” said Vice President of The Wilds Dr. Jan Ramer.
Calves are born after a gestation period of approximately 15 months. The mother gives birth standing up, and within a few hours of birth, calves can stand and run on their own. Male giraffes can grow to be 18 feet tall at their horn tips and weigh between 1,800 and 4,300 lbs. Females are between 13 and 15 feet tall and weigh between 1,200 and 2,600 lbs. Giraffes are the tallest of all extant land-living animal species, and are the largest ruminants.
The calf is currently spending time in the giraffe barn with his mother. While the calf is not currently visible during Open-Air Safari Tours, guests who experience a Wildside Tour may catch a glimpse of mom and baby.
For more information about The Wilds or to book your visit, check out https://thewilds.columbuszoo.org/home. Please note that advance reservations are required for each tour.