Gulf Breeze Zoo announced Tuesday the birth of a new giraffe calf named Kai.
On Feb. 10, reticulated giraffe Kenya went into labor just after 8 p.m. in her birthing stall within the giraffe compound. Patient zoo staff anxiously watched her deliver a healthy boy calf, Kai, two hours later, just after 10 p.m. Animal Care Staff had been anticipating the birth for fifteen long months, the typical gestation period for a giraffe. This new little calf was born weighing in at 136.4 pounds and just over six feet tall.
Reticulated giraffe, one of the world’s most iconic species of giraffe, quietly joined the international endangered species list in March 2018. While these giants are well equipped to handle lions and hyenas, they continue to come up short when faced with poaching and habitat loss.
It’s estimated that over 40 percent of wild giraffe populations have been lost since 1999, although the issue has been largely overlooked. Most people are familiar with current poaching issues such as rhinos for their horns, big cats for their pelts and elephants for their ivory, but the issues facing giraffes are less well known.
Why are they disappearing?
Giraffe populations struggle due to habitat loss, excessive hunting and poaching. Unfortunately poaching has been on the rise due to:
- Misinformation that giraffe bones have medicinal properties. (They do not.)
- Some local traditions that use a giraffe tail as a marriage dowry.
- Tourists purchasing trinkets made of giraffe tail hair; such as: bracelets, thread and fly swatters.
How can we help?
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is dedicated to saving these gentle giants, by participating in breeding programs and providing hands on educational opportunities to thousands of guests each year. Newborn giraffe, Kai, is part of the bigger solution for giraffe as an ambassador according to a press release from the zoo. He raises awareness for his wild counterparts, as the Zoo partners annually with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which helps save wild giraffe. Funding for conservation programs like these are made possible through the continued support of zoo guests.
Kai is growing every day and can be viewed daily in the baby giraffe yard with older baby giraffe “Gus,” weather dependent from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., by the Giraffe exhibit.