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West Sacramento Sun

Sacramento Zoo Celebrates the Birth of Masai Giraffe Calf

Jan 31, 2023 12:00AM ● By Sacramento Zoo News Release

Shani a Masai giraffe gave birth to a female calf on Sunday, January 22, at 12:28pm at the maternity giraffe barn stall of the Sacramento Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Zoo

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Shani the giraffe gave birth to a female calf on Sunday, January 22, at 12:28pm. Her zookeepers noted signs of an impending birth on January 18, and Shani was moved into the maternity stall of the giraffe barn to be monitored. Although animal care and veterinary teams were suspicious that she might still be pregnant, just not on her original timeline, there were no definitive signs until very recently.

We are thrilled to announce that Shani’s calf is healthy and nursing well from mom. The pair will be given bonding time but may be visible at their habitat’s side yard periodically over the next few weeks. The official debut date will be dependent on the health and welfare of mom and calf. Keep an eye out on our social media pages for when this new addition to our herd will be visible!

Sacramento Zoo is now home to six giraffes: one post-reproductive female reticulated giraffe, one male Masai giraffe, three female Masai giraffe including Shani, and now the new calf. This is the 21st calf born at the Sacramento Zoo going back to 1954 when giraffes were first housed in Sacramento. 

The Masai giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies and is found in southern Kenya and Tanzania. Gestation is 14 to 15 months. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as six feet and weigh as much as 150 pounds. Within minutes, the calf is able to stand on its own.

Sacramento Zoo is one of 34 institutions managing 131 Masai giraffes in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) population. The Zoo partners with and supports the Wild Nature Institute (WNI), a field research organization that is currently studying Masai giraffe demographics and the African Savanna ecosystem with photo recognition software. The zoo’s partnership with WNI is critical to giraffe research and conservation efforts.

Wild giraffes are experiencing a silent extinction as their populations continue to plummet due to poaching and habitat loss. It has been estimated that the mammals’ numbers have fallen by more than 40 percent over the last 30 years. Approximately 150,000 wild giraffes existed as recently as 1985, but it is now estimated that there are now fewer than 97,000, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2016, the IUCN moved giraffes from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable” on its Red List of Threatened Species.

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