Habitat: Savannas, grasslands and open woodlands
Range: Africa, mostly south of the Sahara Desert
On June 8, the Fort Worth Zoo welcomed a male reticulated giraffe to the herd. At birth, the soon-to-be named calf weighed 185 pounds and stood roughly 6 feet tall. But that's not all! Just eight days later, on June 16, a second reticulated giraffe was born. This unnamed calf weighed-in at 150 pounds and stood at 5 feet, 11 inches tall (just one inch shorter than his half-brother). Born to moms Kala and Corrie, respectively, the two calves will weigh up to 3,000 pounds and measure about 18 feet from head to hoof when fully grown.
The Fort Worth Zoo houses reticulated giraffes, one of the nine subspecies of giraffe. Giraffes are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a “vulnerable” species, which was uplisted in December of last year. In fact, the IUCN and Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimate that the giraffe population has decreased by 40 percent over the last 20 years in the wild, facing what many are calling a “silent extinction.” The Fort Worth Zoo participates in a cooperative breeding program with other accredited zoos around the country in order to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population of giraffes as a hedge against extinction.
These giraffe calves bring the herd to nine, but the new African Savanna exhibit will have room to house a herd of up to 18. This will allow the Zoo to continue breeding these vulnerable animals and give guests the opportunity to connect with and learn more about them. Zoo visitors will be able to stand eye-to-eye and feed the giraffes directly out of their hands in the new exhibit! The African Savanna will open next spring.