A new female Masai giraffe was born in the late afternoon hours of Thursday, Sept. 21 at th Toledo Zoo. The new female, named Binti, which means daughter in Swahili, weighs 134 pounds and stands approximately six-feet two-inches tall.
Both mother, Tuli, and Binti are doing well and bonding off exhibit. The new family will remain off exhibit until examined and cleared for debut by Zoo veterinarians and animal care staff.
Giraffes are the tallest land mammals, standing 14-18 feet tall as adults. There are nine recognized sub-species of giraffes from all across southern and eastern Africa. Each giraffe has a unique spot pattern, but giraffes from the same geographical area appear similar. The Zoo’s Masai giraffes are native to Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and have distinct oak leaf spot patterns that serve as camouflage in the African plains.
Giraffes typically give birth standing up. The offspring are known as calves and are born front feet and head first. The calf takes a dramatic but not harmful approximate six foot fall to the ground, causing it to take in a big deep breath. After about an hour the calf can walk and nurse and will begin eating vegetation at around a week old.
In the wild, until the calf is old enough to join the tower, it is hidden in vegetation to protect it from predators. When the calf finally joins the group, all the females will take turns looking after the offspring while the mother feeds. This not only helps the calf to develop physically standing up but also to socialize it while in the safety of the group. The calf will continue to nurse until six to nine months of age.
Giraffes are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a vulnerable species with declining population due to four main causes: habitat loss, civil unrest, illegal hunting/poaching and ecological changes. The Zoo participates in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) to help preserve a healthy and genetically diverse captive population.
Once on exhibit, Binti will join Tuli, Elli, Charlotte, Bahati, Trevor and Kipenzi along with zebras, wildebeests, kudus, warthogs and more in the Africa! exhibit on the north side of the Zoo.