Home News The Wilds Celebrates Birth of Endangered Giraffe Calf

The Wilds Celebrates Birth of Endangered Giraffe Calf


CUMBERLAND, Ohio ­– The Wilds is welcoming the addition of an adorable and extremely important new face to one of its herds. An endangered Masai giraffe calf was born in the yard just outside the giraffe barn in the morning hours of August 17, 2023. This birth marks the 22nd giraffe calf to be born at the conservation center throughout its history.

Animal Management staff continues to monitor the female calf, who appears to be strong and was observed nursing from mother, Savannah. Savannah is an experienced mother, and this calf is her seventh. Savannah was born at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in August 2003 and has lived at The Wilds since 2004.

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 11 calves.

The breeding of Raha and Savannah 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 birth is 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, which manages The Wilds, 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.

“We are excited about the birth of this most recent calf and proud of the continued success of our giraffe breeding program. The Wilds also plays an integral role in inspiring our guests to connect with wildlife and join us in taking action to help protect the future of threatened and endangered species. Births are always worth celebrating, especially as they contribute to our purpose of Empowering People. Saving Wildlife.,” said Dr. Joe Smith, Vice President of The Wilds.

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.