The Memphis Zoo happily announced the arrival of a male Reticulated Giraffe calf on July 12. Giraffe mom, Wendy, chose to remain outside on-exhibit during her labor. Her new calf, Wakati, was born in the open area of the Zoo’s giraffe lot.
Wakati arrived after 15 months of gestation and is Memphis Zoo’s second giraffe birth in three months. His parents are first-time mom, Wendy, and experienced father, Niklas (who is also dad to Bogey, born April 3 of this year). Wendy was also born at Memphis Zoo in 2010 to mother, Marilyn, who remains part of the Zoo herd. Eight-year-old Niklas arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 2015 from the Naples Zoo in Florida.
“We are thrilled to welcome Wakati to our giraffe family, as we’ve been waiting a while for this new baby,” shared Courtney Janney, Area Curator. “Wakati means “time” in Swahili, and we felt it was a good fit for our new arrival. Wendy immediately began showing appropriate maternal instincts, and we anticipate her keeping a close eye on Wakati as he integrates into the herd and begins to show independence.”
After 24 hours of acclimation and close monitoring, Wakati’s first medical check-up was performed. This first examination ensured that the new baby was healthy and nursing, while providing the baseline needed to assess future growth.
“Wakati’s neonatal exam went great! He looks strong and healthy,” reported Dr. Felicia Knightly, senior veterinarian at Memphis Zoo Animal Hospital. “Wakati is 5’10” in height and weighed in at 125 pounds. He’s nursing well and Wendy is already taking good care of him.”
Wakati was welcomed into the herd by another female, Angela Kate, who was in the yard during Wakati’s first steps. Although Wendy started to bond with Wakati moments after the birth by licking him clean and encouraging first steps, Angela Kate remained close by to help.
The giraffe herd at Memphis Zoo has now climbed to a total of nine with the birth of Wakati. From 1996 to 2006, Memphis Zoo did not have a single giraffe birth. Since 2006, at least one new giraffe calf has been born every year. Memphis Zoo has kept Reticulated Giraffes in their facility since August 1957.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate) is one of nine recognized subspecies of giraffe. Easily the tallest species on the planet, the giraffe can browse on leaves that Africa’s other grazing herbivores can’t reach.
Giraffes travel in loose, informal herds and can be found in eastern, central and southern Africa. They range across savannah, grasslands, and open woods in search of trees (especially their favorite, acacias) to feed upon.