Toledo Zoo in Ohio welcomed a new addition to its family this week, it was reported on Saturday (7 April). Masai giraffe Elli gave birth to a female calf named Kipenzi on Monday, the zoo told local news.
Weighing in at just under 59kg (around 9 stone 4lbs) and standing over 170cm (5ft 7in) tall, Kipenzi, meaning "beloved" or "precious one" in Swahili, may be taller than the average adult woman, but she will be fiercely protected, nonetheless. The zoo said the calf was doing well, but would not be on public display until late May.
The zoo's director of animal programmes, Terry Webb, said the birth went well and that having examined Kipenzi "the calf looked strong and alert and bright the next morning".
However, a lot can go wrong in the birth of giraffes, he said, which is why the zoo opted not to livestream the event, as a zoo in New York plans to shortly. Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville New York has had a live camera feed on its pregnant giraffe named April.
Webb told The Toledo Blade newspaper: "[If something goes wrong] You're going to have to cut your live feed off, everyone is going to be concerned, and you'll have to intervene," he said. "That's another layer of responsibility and challenge that we don't need."
In fact, one of 14-year-old Elli's five calves was stillborn. Kipenzi is the first offspring for her five-and-a-half-year-old father, Trevor.
With another young female giraffe having to be euthanised after she was injured in a routine quarantine following transfer from another zoo, Kipenzi is one of few female new additions to the captive Masai giraffe population. Act for Wildlife says the numbers of giraffe are less than 80,000 in the wild – down from 140,000 15 years ago.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the giraffe is threatened with extinction. It said that the Illegal hunting, habitat loss, and increasing human-wildlife conflict, among other factors, meant that of the nine subspecies of giraffe, only three have increasing populations.