Nashville Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a male Masai giraffe. The calf was born February 10, weighing 163 lbs. and standing 6 feet, 3 inches tall. Mother, Margarita and calf are doing well and are currently off exhibit in the Zoo’s giraffe barn. This is Margarita’s fifth calf and second male to be born at the Zoo.
“Margarita is a proven and successful mom for her calves, and this calf was no exception,” said Greg Peccie, Director of Animal Operations. “Once the calf was on the ground, she placed her legs around the calf to help support him in his attempts to stand. The calf was standing with mom about an hour after he was born and proceeded to nurse almost instantly.”
The Zoo’s giraffe keepers have chosen the name Mazi (pronounced MAH-zee) for the newest addition. Mazi, which is short for Mazingira Magumu, is Swahili meaning “vulnerable,” a conservation term recently given to giraffes by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
With the addition of the calf, Nashville Zoo is home to four Masai giraffes. Keeper staff will carefully monitor the calf’s development and make a decision on his public debut depending on weather and temperature.
Masai giraffes (Giraffa tippelskirchi) are a species of giraffe known for their vine-leaf shaped spot pattern. They are native to the savannas of Kenya and Tanzania in Africa. The wild population has seen a 40% decline since 1985 due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and illegal hunting. Nashville Zoo is a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Giraffe Species Survival Plan that contributes to the genetic preservation of the species across the nation.
Nashville Zoo’s 1.5 acre Giraffe Savannah opened in April 2006 thanks to hundreds of supporters who contributed to the Zoo’s “Stick Your Neck Out” campaign.
Through recent conservation work in Africa involving genetics and population assessments, it has recently been determined the threats to the wild population of giraffe are more severe than what was initially realized. African giraffe populations as a whole include approximately 60,000 animals; however, recent studies have discovered isolated populations and even different species of giraffes whose numbers range as low as a few hundred to a few thousand. In an effort to support the work going on to help the plight of giraffe, Nashville Zoo donated $10,000 to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in 2016. If you would like to join in the effort to save these magnificent animals for future generations, you can make a donation in Mazi's name to Nashville Zoo, and all proceeds will go towards giraffe conservation efforts.