POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has announced the birth of a male Masai giraffe calf, born on Aug. 31 to mom, Zuri, in the Heart of Africa region.
The new calf is described by the zoo as being “fiercely cute” and as having “a fuzzy mane, unique spot pattern, enviable eyelashes, and long wobbly legs that have already supported excited ‘zoomies.'” The zoo also noted that “his birth is especially significant as it marks an important achievement for the future of this endangered species,” according to a news release.
“We are always thrilled to welcome the birth of a giraffe,” Shannon Borders, Curator of the Heart of Africa region. “Twenty-two giraffes have been born at the Columbus Zoo over the course of our history, but this latest birth — our 23rd — is particularly special.”
Currently, the calf and Zuri — who is being a “great mother” — are spending time bonding behind the scenes, and the little gi is slowly meeting other members of the herd, the zoo revealed. A wellness check confirmed that the newborn is healthy and eating enough after he was observed nursing shortly after his birth.
Sadly, the calf will not be able to meet his father, Enzi, who “was humanely euthanized on September 23, 2021, due to chronic and deteriorating health issues that were not responding to treatment,” the zoo stated.
“We were heartbroken to lose Enzi, and this calf is such an amazing gift to us and to the future of all Masai giraffes,” said Borders. “This little one is truly our miracle baby, and it warms our hearts that Enzi’s legacy continues to live on to have such a positive impact.”
The Masai giraffe subspecies was listed as endangered in 2019 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. According to the zoo, “The population has fallen by nearly 50 percent over the last three decades” and at this time “there are estimated to be only 35,000 Masai giraffe remaining.”
“From our successful giraffe breeding program, contributions to field conservation projects, and leadership in Animal Health initiatives benefiting giraffes, we are fully committed to making a difference for Masai giraffes and other species that rely on their place in nature,” said Columbus Zoo President/CEO Tom Schmid. “None of this would be possible without the support of our community, and we are grateful and proud to be able to help provide our community with a connection to nature so that together we can make a global impact,”
The newest herd member — who has yet to be named — and his mother are not quite ready for viewing, but guests can still meet Ralph, Sammie, and Schaefer, the zoo wrote.