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Giraffe Baby

Posted July 2019

The Milwaukee County Zoo is proud to announce details of a reticulated giraffe birth on Saturday, July 13 at 4:37 p.m. The youngster marks the third calf born at the Zoo in the last three years. He was named Desmond by a Zoo Ball Donor in honor of Desmond Tutu, who is a South African Anglican cleric.

Desmond was born to mom, Ziggy, and dad, Bahatika, also known as Baha. This is Ziggy and Baha’s third calf together; Tafari was born in 2015 and Kazi was born in 2017. Zoo veterinarians have completed the calf’s first exam, and recorded a weight of about 152 pounds, and a height of approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall. 

The calf got his balance quickly after birth, seemed very strong, and was able to stand up within 55 minutes of birth. Ziggy appears to be an attentive mother.

Ziggy is 9 years old, and arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2013 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Bahatika is 14 years old, and arrived at MCZ in 2006 from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

The Zoo currently houses seven giraffes: adults Bahatika, Marlee, Ziggy, Rahna; youngsters Kazi and Maya; and the newborn.

Giraffes are the tallest land animals, and are typically between 14-19 feet tall and weigh between 1,750-2,800 pounds. Giraffes use their long necks to reach leaves and buds in trees that other herbivores can’t reach.

Of the nine subspecies of giraffes, two are considered endangered—the reticulated and the Masai.

In the wild, the reticulated giraffe population has dropped by 80 percent in the last decade and the Masai giraffe population has dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last three decades. However, all giraffe populations are declining, with hunting and habitat loss as the major threats. Due to their current status, every giraffe birth is very important for the population.

The calf will stay in the indoor giraffe habitat until he is at least three weeks old. The indoor habitat will be open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. during this time, as long as Ziggy and the calf continue to feel comfortable.

Desmond can now be seen in the outdoor giraffe habitat most days.


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