The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed a newborn Masai giraffe, a subspecies native to Kenya and Tanzania that was recently deemed to be one of the most endangered animals in the wild. The new calf is on display now at the zoo with the herd of four females and one male.
The unnamed baby giraffe born Oct. 5 weighed 138 pounds and stood 6½ feet tall, according to an L.A. Zoo news release. Giraffa camelopardalis subspecies tippelskirchii can grow up to 17 feet tall, weigh up to 2,700 pounds and have what are called “irregular” shaped patches all over their bodies.
The calf is the fifth born to her mother, named Hasina, and seventh from her father, Phillip. All giraffes at the zoo belong to the Masai subspecies, and are part of a special breeding program that aims to maintain genetic diversity.
“The giraffe calf won’t be returned to the wild, but that doesn’t mean she will live her whole life here at the L.A. Zoo,” spokeswoman April Spurlock wrote in an email. “She will probably be here for the next two to three years, and then she could go to another [American Zoo Assn.]-accredited zoo if there is a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan program.”
There are about 500 such zoo-based conservation programs under way for different species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature in July put the subspecies on its endangered Red List after populations in the giraffes’ native habitat dwindled by 50% in the past three decades, largely because of poaching and habitat loss. About 35,000 Masai giraffes still exist in the wild.