New Giraffe at SB Zoo

VALERIE CARROLL

Staff Writer

A new addition has recently been added to the animal family at the Santa Barbara Zoo.  The baby masai giraffe named Chad was born on March 26, late at night. The eight-year-old mother Audrey first boasted her healthy newborn to the public on the weekend of April 2 and 3, when Chad was only about seven days old.

Masai giraffes are part of the largest subspecies of the giraffe family, they used to live throughout all of Africa, but now they only inhabit some African countries and zoos like the Santa Barbara Zoo. The SB Zoo and the other 28 zoos that are homes to masai giraffes work hard to sustain and grow the small population of giraffes in North America. That is why SB Zoo giraffe calves move onto different zoos in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to create their own herds. Michael, the head male of the herd at the SB Zoo is considered the most genetically valuable giraffe in North America, foreshadowing great things for his son Chad.

Baby masai giraffes are hardly babies when compared to humans, they are born at a height of 6 feet and grow rapidly until they reach their adult size at age 4. When Chad was born he was 6 feet and 6 inches and weighed 191 pounds, officials said.

“They come out pretty ready to go,” said Director of Animal Care Sheri Horiszny in her interview with KEYT. “They stand up within the first hour and they’re able to nurse within the first couple of hours.”

Chad joins the four other giraffes in the SB Zoo exhibit during midday hours, at his mother’s discretion. On his first day he was introduced to many new things, from the rocks and pond in his exhibit, to the lions right next door. Not only is his birth good for the giraffes, but it also is good for the animals nearby. The lions, in the exhibit adjacent to the giraffes, are able to watch Chad frolick about. In their natural environment he would make for a filling meal, so it’s very stimulating for them to be able to watch him.

Chad pleases the animals at the zoo, and the visitors. As you stand around the giraffes’ home, you can hear the buzz of the onlookers talking about the cute new baby giraffe at the zoo. Though he could be considered a rare sighting, because of the small window he’s allowed out each day, those who are able to see him are charmed by the baby.

“The baby giraffe at the zoo is so cute,” said freshman Kimberly Silva. “I can’t wait to see him!”

Neither can many others, judging by the crowds that have recently been migrating towards the giraffe exhibit. Get your zoo tickets, and head on over to the giraffe exhibit soon, because Chad won’t be a baby forever.

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