High hopes for zoo's baby giraffe
Given those attributes, and all the hoopla surrounding the Obama family this month, you just knew the Buffalo Zoo’s new female reticulated giraffe was going to be named Malia.
That’s what keepers settled on, and the name seemed to fit perfectly Thursday as the calf, born Jan. 10, posed for pictures in the Giraffe House.
She batted her big brown eyes and stood wobbly, like a little girl trying on her mother’s high-heeled shoes, as shutters clicked and tape rolled. Considering that this namesake of the president’s older daughter has already shot up to a height of 6z 1/4 eet, a little shakiness was understandable.
The fresh addition to the zoo collection underscores the ongoing success of the giraffe breeding program, which has produced 24 surviving offspring since it was begun 40 years ago.
In addition to Malia, the family currently includes her father, Cain; mother, Akili; and two other adult females. The calf will likely remain in Buffalo for about a year before going to another zoo, where she eventually will be bred as part of the global survival plan for reticulated giraffes.
Reticulated giraffes, which at a height of 14 to 18 feet are the tallest living mammals, are still relatively plentiful in the African savannah, keeper Vicki Hodge said.
Like other wild areas around the world, however, the habitat is shrinking due to human encroachment. Captive breeding programs like Buffalo’s are necessary to safeguard the animals’ long-term prospects.
Because the youngster needs time to bond with her mother, and a new veterinary clinic is going up next to the Giraffe House, the facility soon will be off-limits to the public.
In the meantime, the new arrival may be viewed from the building’s vestibule. The giraffe family will not venture into the yard outside until warmer weather arrives, Hodge said.