The Living Desert

Miraculous Giraffe Calf Born at Living Desert Zoo

Shellie Giraffe Calf Born at TLD

On August 27, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens welcomed a female Giraffe calf to their herd. Born to mother, Dadisi, and father, Hesabu, the calf weighed in at 143 pounds and stood 5 feet 11 inches tall.

The calf was given the official name “Shellie Muujiza”. Through a generous gift of $50,000 by long-time supporter Harold Matzner, Shellie Muujiza was named in honor of Harold’s life partner, Shellie Reade. And true to the Giraffe’s heritage, Muujiza mean ‘miracle’ in Swahili.

“We are excited to share the joyous news of our new addition, Shellie. Mother and calf are doing very well and guests have the thrilling opportunity to see them both beginning today,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “While we continue to mourn the loss of Pona, our male Giraffe who suddenly passed away in August, we find comfort in the new life that this Giraffe calf brings to The Living Desert.”

Giraffe Calf  born August 27 at The Living DesertPhoto Credits: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

This is the seventh calf for mom, Dadisi, and ninth calf for father, Hesabu. Dadisi is 16 years old and has lived at The Living Desert since 2002; this is her second female calf. Hesabu is 16 years old and has lived at The Living Desert since 2002. The Living Desert is home to a herd of eight giraffe, five males and three females.

“I am proud to support The Living Desert and their important Giraffe conservation efforts,” said Matzner, who also named baby Harold, the Giraffe born at The Living Desert on April 28, 2017. “It’s a true pleasure to name two Giraffe in their magnificent herd.”

“Dadisi and her calf have bonded and are doing very well. The well-baby exam showed that all her vitals are within the normal range and she is progressing as expected,” said RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Programs at The Living Desert. “We are grateful for Mr. Matzner’s continued generosity and support of our giraffe herd. We look forward to seeing baby Harold and baby Shellie together on the savannah habitat.”

Giraffe gestation is about 15 months. The calf will now nurse for nine to 12 months, and begin eating foliage at about four months. During the first year of her life, she will have doubled her size. Giraffe have their own individual spot-like markings and no two giraffe have the same pattern, similar to humans’ unique fingerprints.

Currently listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as “Vulnerable”, Giraffe populations have declined up to 40% over the last 30 years. There are fewer than 98,000 giraffe in the wild. Native to southern and eastern Africa, major threats to giraffe population is habitat loss and fragmentation, civil unrest, and ecological changes.

Visitors can get up-close and personal with these majestic animals by participating in the Giraffe feedings from 9:00 a.m. to noon daily. For more information, visit www.LivingDesert.org .


The Living Desert Debuts Bighorn Lamb

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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the birth of a Bighorn lamb. The female was born February 18 and weighed in at 3.9 kilograms at her newborn wellness check. Zoo officials say both mother and baby are doing well.

“We are thrilled with the birth of this Bighorn lamb, as they are native to our area and play an important, iconic role in our desert habitat,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “The Living Desert participates with other zoos from around the country in the Bighorn Sheep Species Survival Plan (SSP) and we are proud of our participation in the efforts to preserve this endangered species.”

The lamb’s father is five-years-old Dante who sired seven lambs at the San Diego Wild Animal Park prior to arriving at The Living Desert in the summer of 2014. The mother, Margo, is almost eight-years-old and also came to The Living Desert from the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 2009.

Bighorn lambs are born with soft, woolly, light-colored coats and small horn buds. Within a day, a lamb can walk and climb as well as its mother. A lamb will stay with its mother for the first year of its life.

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3_Bighorn Lamb Feb 2016 - 2Photo Credits: The Living Desert

Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis) are one of two species of mountain sheep in North America. They range in color from light brown to grayish or dark brown, and have a white rump and lining on the backs of all four legs. Bighorn Sheep get their name from the large, curved horns on the males, or rams. They are legendary for their ability to climb high, steep, rocky mountain areas.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were between 1.5 million to two million Bighorn Sheep in North America. Today, there are less than 70,000.

The SSP Programs significantly contribute to field conservation efforts, species recovery, veterinary care for wildlife disease issues, establishment of assurance populations, and many other species-focused conservation efforts.

“As the national SSP Coordinator for the Bighorn Sheep, I am so excited to welcome this lamb. She will help provide genetic diversity to our managed populations,” said Maureen McCarty, The Living Desert’s Special Projects Coordinator and the Bighorn Sheep SSP Coordinator.

The new lamb is currently on exhibit with the herd at The Living Desert.

The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited zoo and gardens, located in Palm Desert, California, that is dedicated to conservation and education. It is a family-friendly place to explore nature and create meaningful experiences for visitors that are remembered for a lifetime. For more information visit: www.LivingDesert.org.


It’s All About that Pumpkin

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Pumpkins are everywhere, this time of year! They make great pies, Jack-O-Lanterns, and pretty awesome enrichment toys for zoo animals. Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

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Photo Credits: Tammy Spratt/San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Image 1: African Lion Cub); Amiee Stubbs Photography (Image 2: "Charlie" the Porcupine at Nashville Zoo); Lincoln Children's Zoo (Image 3: "Lincoln" the Red Panda); ZooAmerica (Image 4: "Rainier" the Mountain Lion); Zoo Vienna Schönbrunn (Image 5: Elephants); Sue Ogrocki (Images 6-Gorilla,7-Red River Hogs,10-Galapagos Tortoise at Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens); Minnesota Zoo (Image 8: Lynx); The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Image 9: Meerkats)

More great pumpkin pics below the fold!

Continue reading "It’s All About that Pumpkin" »


Ringtail Cubs Debut at The Living Desert

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Two ringtails born June 12 at The Living Desert in California recently made their debut.  Because ringtails are nocturnal creatures, the staff shows off the babies during twice daily hand feedings, giving guests a better chance to see the babies.

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Photo Credit:  Bert Buxbaum

The two cubs, one male and one female, we born to parents Abe and Penelope.  They have not yet been named.

Also called ring-tailed cats, ringtails are closely related to raccoons.  They are native to the southern central plains and desert Southwest in the United States and are found throughout Mexico.  Like raccoons, ringtails are omnivorous, feeding on mice, frogs, toads, snakes, berries, and insects.   

Because of their nocturnal habits and shyness toward humans, ringtails are not commonly seen in the wild.  Ringtails are expert climbers, with ankles that can rotate 180 degrees to allow headfirst descents from trees.