Home News The Wilds Announce Second Birth of Endangered Giraffe Calf

The Wilds Announce Second Birth of Endangered Giraffe Calf


CUMBERLAND, Ohio ­– The Wilds’ Masai giraffe herd has welcomed the arrival of a second endangered calf in just over a week! The male calf was born during the late evening hours of Saturday, August 26, 2023. This birth marks the 23rd giraffe calf born at the conservation center throughout its history, a testament to the important role The Wilds serves in protecting giraffes’ future.

Animal Management staff noted that mother, Lulu, was in labor late that afternoon, and they continued to monitor her to ensure the birth went smoothly. The calf stood soon after birth and began nursing from experienced mother, Lulu. The care team reports that the calf continues to be strong and healthy. This calf is the third for Lulu, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2012 and arrived at The Wilds in 2014.

The calf’s father, Raha, was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in April 2006 and arrived at The Wilds from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium in 2009, where he has since sired 12 calves.

On August 17, The Wilds also welcomed a female calf. She is the 7th calf born to 20-year-old mother, Savannah, and the sire is Raha.

The calves and their mothers have access to one another, which occasionally results in excited zoomies in the barn and adjacent yard.

The breeding of both giraffe pairs 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 professional care.

The births are a significant achievement for the future of Masai giraffes. In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Masai giraffe subspecies as endangered as the population has plummeted by nearly 50 percent over the last three decades. There are estimated to be only 35,000 Masai giraffes remaining in their native ranges in southern Kenya and north and central Tanzania primarily due to habitat loss, civil unrest/military operations, poaching and ecological changes.

To further protect the future of giraffes, The Wilds and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium have provided more than $172,000 over the last five years to support conservation projects benefiting giraffes in their native ranges. These funds support several conservation projects in giraffe range countries across Africa, including a giraffe-specific initiative through the Hirola Conservation Programme in Kenya, 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 (GCF) in Namibia and Uganda.

“Every birth of an endangered species is important, and welcoming two Masai giraffe calves is particularly special,” said Dr. Joe Smith, Vice President of The Wilds. “We are proud of the continued success of our giraffe program, and we look forward to seeing the calves play and interact with one another, grow, and further contribute to the conservation of their species.”

Calves are born after a gestation period of approximately 15 months. The mother gives birth standing up, and calves can stand and run on their own within a few hours of birth.

Male giraffes can grow to be 18 feet tall at the tips of their ossicones 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 Wilds is currently open daily through October, and is then open for Winter Wildside tours. The new calf may be visible to guests during a Wildside Tour. The Wildside Tour currently provides guests with the unique opportunity to visit the Giraffe Barn to interact with the world’s tallest mammal species. The giraffes are residing at the barn while their pasture shelter is completed as part of the conservation center’s commitment to enhance their care and wellbeing. Wildside Tours are presented by AEP Ohio.

For more information about The Wilds’ conservation initiatives, educational offerings, how to become a member, or to schedule a tour, please visit TheWilds.org and follow The Wilds’ social media accounts on FacebookInstagramX, and TikTok.