A mystery donor gave $100,000 to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, winning the right to name the newest member of the facility’s giraffe herd while also helping conservation efforts in Tanzania, zoo officials announced Monday.
“We are thrilled to formally announce our baby giraffe’s name — Vicki Lou,” Living Desert President/CEO Allen Monroe said. “The generous naming gift will continue to support The Living Desert’s conservation initiatives and programs that help save giraffes from extinction.”
Vicki Lou was born in the early morning hours of March 20 — the first day of spring — at 6-foot-1-inch in height and 149.6 pounds, zoo officials said. She is the eighth calf for her 18-year-old mother, Dadisi, who has lived at the zoo since 2002.
Zoo officials said the $100,000 donation will help support giraffe- conservation projects, such as Wild Nature Institute’s environmental education programs.
WNI conducts scientific research for at-risk wildlife species, as well as their habitats, while advocating for species’ protection and educating the public about conservation, according to the organization’s website.
According to Living Desert, the $100,000 will go specifically to programs that work directly with teachers and schools to grow the next generation of conservationists in Tanzania through educational materials, storytelling, activities and workshops.
“By naming our newest giraffe calf, our donors are sharing their commitment to the future of desert wildlife here in the Coachella Valley and around the world,” Director of Development for the zoo Jan Hawkins said.
The birth of the calf follows the December death of Hebasu, an 18-year- old male that sired the newborn, officials said.
“The Living Desert fondly remembers Hesabu with the birth of this calf,” said Living Desert Director of Animal Care RoxAnna Breitigan. “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.”
The 18-year-old Hebasu was one of the oldest male giraffes in human care, according to zoo officials.
Vicki Lou is expected to nurse for up to 12 months, zoo officials said. The baby should double its size in the first year of life.
The zoo is home to nine giraffes, five males and four females.
Giraffes are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable with population declines up to 40 percent over the past 30 years, according to zoo officials.
Fewer than 100,000 of the native southern and eastern African species live in the wild.