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Memphis Zoo Welcomes a Baby Reticulated Giraffe

Maliki hero

The pitter patter of little hooves can be heard at the Giraffe Exhibit at Memphis Zoo.

Around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, Marilyn, a 19-year-old Reticulated Giraffe, gave birth to Maliki, a baby girl weighing 115 pounds. This is the fourth calf for Marilyn, and the sixth sired by Kenya. 



Maliki meets her her father, Kenya.

Photo credits: Laura Doty / Memphis Zoo

"Marilyn is a great, experienced mother," says Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. "We're always excited about the birth of a healthy baby, but I'm especially pleased because Maliki inherited her mother's beautiful coloring. She has her mother's dark face, which is something the other calves haven't had."

Baby Maliki and Marilyn have already been out on exhibit. They will be spending short amounts of time on exhibit between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., however, due to cold temperatures, the Zoo's animal staff will continue to rotate them on and off exhibit.

Reticulated Giraffes give birth standing, and are one of the few animals born with horns on their heads. This is to protect them from a 6-foot fall to the ground at birth. 

See more family photos after the fold!

Maliki meets her family. 


Taxonomists currently recognize nine subspecies—genetically distinct groups—of giraffes. Reticulated Giraffes, also known as Somali Giraffes, are a subspecies that can be identified by their distinctive boxy spot pattern. They are found in Somalia, Ethiopia, and north and eastern Kenya. This subspecies has suffered at least an 80% decline in the past decade alone. There may be fewer than 5,000 individuals of this subspecies left in the wild. 

In the wild, Reticulated Giraffes live in loose herds, constructed of family groups. These groups can range from five to 15 members. Memphis Zoo is home to three adult Reticulated Giraffes, Marilyn, Kenya and Serabi. All three of the adults, as well as their offspring, can be found at in the Giraffe Exhibit in the African Veldt. Memphis Zoo has kept Reticulated Giraffes in the collection since August 1957. Little Maliki brings Memphis Zoo's giraffe herd to a total of nine. She is the sixth baby giraffe in seven years.