In the early morning hours of the first day of Spring, March 20, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens welcomed a female giraffe calf to the herd – born to mother, Dadisi (DA-dee-see), and father, Hesabu (Heh-SAW-boo). The female calf weighs in at 149.6 pounds (68kg) and stands 6 feet 1 inch tall. The yet-to-be-named calf will make her public debut on the giraffe habitat later next week.
“We are thrilled to share the news of this new addition. Mother and calf are doing very well and are currently bonding behind-the-scenes,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “Guests will have the opportunity to see mother and calf in the near future and I know they will be delighted when they see the pair.”
This is the eighth calf for mom, Dadisi, who is 18 years old and has lived at The Living Desert since 2002. This is her third female calf. Dadisi is also mom to 18 month old giraffe, Shellie Muujiza. This is the tenth calf for father, Hesabu, who passed away in December of 2018 after a rapid decline in his health. The Living Desert is home to a herd of nine giraffe, five males and four females.
“The Living Desert fondly remembers Hesabu with the birth of this calf,” said RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care at The Living Desert. “Hesabu’s legacy will continue to live on through his offspring, helping to build connections with our guests and fostering appreciation for the natural world.”
“Dadisi and her calf have bonded and are doing very well. The well-baby exam showed that all her vitals are within the normal range and she is progressing as expected,” said Dr. Andrea Goodnight, Head Veterinarian at The Living Desert. “She is tall, healthy and absolutely adorable.”
Giraffe gestation is about 15 months. The calf will nurse for nine to 12 months, and begin eating foliage around two months old. The giraffe will double her size in the first year of her life. Giraffe have their own individual spot-like markings and no two giraffe have the same pattern, similar to humans’ unique fingerprints.
Currently listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as vulnerable, giraffe populations have declined up to 40% over the last 30 years. There are fewer than 98,000 giraffe in the wild. Native to southern and eastern Africa, major threats to giraffe population is habitat loss and fragmentation, civil unrest, and ecological changes.
Visitors can get up-close and personal with these majestic animals by participating in the giraffe feedings from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. daily. The cost is $7 per person or $5 for members.