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DES MOINES, Iowa (September 9, 2022) – Blank Park Zoo is announcing the birth of a male giraffe calf born on Wednesday, September 7 at 4:29 a.m.

“Its always an exciting time at Blank Park Zoo when a giraffe is born,” said Anne Shimerdla, president and CEO.

Just 30 hours after birth, keepers and veterinary staff performed a neonatal exam and determined the calf’s height is five foot five inches and weight is 107 lbs. The calf’s mother, Zola, is six years-old and has lived at Blank Park Zoo since 2017. Jakobi, the father, is 17 years-old and has previously sired several calves.


“We are cautiously optimistic the calf is healthy because he passed all the major milestones for a newborn which include quickly learning to stand, walk and nurse from mom regularly. However, this is Zola’s first calf and mortality for calves is higher for a first born,” said Jay Tetzloff, chief animal officer.


“We are fortunate that the birthing process was quick and Zola has been a great mother, allowing the calf to nurse quickly,” said Dr. Drew Gall, zoo veterinarian.

Beginning September 14, Blank Park Zoo will release several possible names and will ask the public to vote on their favorite. Voting will be free, and people will be able make a donation in honor of the new calf. More information will soon be available on www.blankparkzoo.com.


Also, through 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 10, you can bid, auction style, to be one of the first to see him in a behind-the-scenes tour. This and other items to bid to raise funds for the nonprofit Blank Park Zoo are available at www.blankparkzoo.com/safariauction.


“We are so excited to welcome this healthy boy to our herd,” said Kayla Freeman, supervisor of large mammals. “It has been refreshing to watch Zola become such a great mom. We can’t wait for our community to meet him.”

Currently, the calf is bonding with Zola away from public view and Zoo officials hope visitors will be able to meet him later this fall.


Previously, Raza, a male giraffe calf, was born at Blank Park Zoo on January 18, 2021.

About Giraffe

Giraffe are the tallest land mammal and are herbivores. According to IUCN, the population of giraffes has suffered a dramatic decline in the wild of 35-40 percent since 1985 due to poaching, human population growth, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and habitat degradation. It is estimated that less than 100,000 giraffe remain.


About Blank Park Zoo

The mission of Blank Park Zoo is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education, research and recreation. Zoo hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. Admission rates are $16 for adults, $10 for children under 12, and $14 for seniors and active military. Children one year and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at http://www.blankparkzoo.com. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.