by Jill P
There’s much to celebrate at Binder Park Zoo with the addition of its newest member: a baby reticulated giraffe born on May 23rd. The female was born to 17 year old Makena and weighed in at a whopping 190 lbs. and 73 inches long. Zookeepers have named her Kijana. This is the 10th calf to be born at Binder Park Zoo. You can see Kijana on exhibit later this June. Stay tuned in to the zoo’s Facebook page for updates on her grand debut onto the savanna for the first time!
“Mom and baby are both doing well,” said Brett Linsley, Manager of Wildlife, Conservation and Education at Binder Park Zoo. “This is a significant birth because there are so few reticulated giraffes remaining in the wild and because the conservation status of this subspecies has yet to be classified.”
Although the giraffe is an iconic symbol of Africa, today there are only a few small areas where giraffes remain in the wild. Their populations have diminished to a staggering 90,000—a number that exceeded 140,000 in 1999. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), giraffe populations have declined by 35% over the last two decades, much of which is due to habitat loss and poaching.
Binder Park Zoo has participated in giraffe conservation since the opening of Wild Africa in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2009 when the first baby giraffe in zoo history was born. Binder Park Zoo’s herd consists of six reticulated giraffes. The reticulated giraffe is not currently listed as threatened in the wild by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened species. However, in just the last 15 years the GCF has noted a decline in reticulated giraffe populations from 31,000 in the wild to an estimated 8,000 today—a rate that could eliminate them from the wild by 2020. Conservationists are pushing to get all species of giraffe listed on the IUCN Red Lists, which will help to elevate their protection.
The gestation period for giraffes is 14 to 15 months and calves can be up to 6 feet tall at birth. Giraffe babies start off their lives with a 6-foot drop into the world as their mothers give birth standing up. The giraffe is the tallest land animal and the reticulated giraffe is the most well-known of the giraffe subspecies. Their diet in the wild consists of leaves and small branches of thorny Acacia and Combretum trees.