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    Masai Giraffe Calf Born at the Santa Barbara Zoo

    Michael’s legacy lives on through his twelfth calf born at the Zoo

    The Santa Barbara Zoo is pleased to share that the Masai giraffe Adia gave birth to a female calf on Thursday, November 2, and the two are now bonding behind the scenes in the giraffe barn.

    Adia was in active labor for about 3 hours, and the calf’s legs were first observed around 1:00 p.m. The calf was standing approximately 23 minutes after being born, is nursing, and appears strong and healthy. At its first medical exam, the calf weighed 69 kg (152 lbs) and measured approximately 6 ft 1 inch tall.

    This is Adia’s third calf, and Adia is once again showing excellent maternal behavior, according to Dr. Julie Barnes, the Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care & Health.

    “We are always excited to welcome another calf to our herd, but this one carries extra special significance, as she is the last offspring of our beloved giraffe Michael, who we lost earlier this year,” shared Barnes. “As we witness this calf’s strength and vitality, we are reminded that Michael’s legacy lives on, and our important work surrounding the conservation of this species continues.”

    Masai giraffes are listed as endangered due to the significant decline of this species in the wild in recent decades. The number of Masai giraffes in human care here in the U.S. is relatively small, and the Species Survival Plan manages the population to ensure that it is healthy and genetically diverse so that the population thrives.

    The Zoo’s animal care team will determine when Adia and the calf are ready to leave the giraffe barn and be introduced to the rest of the herd. Until that time, they will remain together to bond behind the scenes. The public will also be encouraged to participate in the naming of the new calf through a voting contest – more details to come soon! Stay tuned to the Zoo’s social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for photos and updates.

    This is the third calf for mother Adia (age 9) and the twelfth for the father, Michael, who was humanely euthanized in February of this year after battling a degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Their first calf together, Twiga, was born in March 2020, just after the Zoo closed due to the pandemic, and their second calf Raymie was born in 2022.

    Michael was the most genetically important male Masai giraffe in North America, as he was only related to his offspring. He was brought to the Zoo from Canada in December 2011 and sired twelve calves at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Nine of the calves have moved to other accredited zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program among accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Two of Michael’s sons have had offspring, so he was a grandpa at the time of his passing. Adia arrived in 2017 from the Cleveland Zoo.

    The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe herd now numbers five with the addition of the new calf, along with Theo, Adia, Audrey, and Raymie.

    The giraffes at the Zoo are among more than 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

    Support the Herd

    The new calf is generously sponsored by Premier Foster Feeders Nora McNeely Hurley & Michael Hurley, and Adia is sponsored in loving memory of Polly Blackburn. The public can also help the Zoo support the herd by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the giraffe herd. A donation of $50+ helps with the cost of feeding the growing giraffe family. New giraffe Foster Feeders will receive a digital certificate with a baby photo of the calf, a Masai giraffe fact sheet, and recognition on the Zoo’s Foster Feeder board. For information or to become a Foster Feeder, click here.

    About Masai Giraffes

    In 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced Masai giraffes are endangered. There are an estimated 37,000 Masai giraffes in Kenya and Tanzania, but a more thorough census is required. They are at risk due to poaching, habitat loss, and degradation. Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, growing up to 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds.

    Santa Barbara Zoo
    Santa Barbara Zoohttps://www.sbzoo.org/
    The Santa Barbara Zoo is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of the natural world and its living treasures through education, research, and recreation.


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