HOUSTON — The Houston Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a female Masai giraffe, born shortly before 7:45 p.m. on Monday in the McGovern Giraffe Habitat at the African Forest. After a three hour-long labor, both first-time mom, Asali, and the yet-to-be-named calf are doing well and are currently bonding behind the scenes with keeper and veterinary teams watching over the pair.
“It’s always exciting when we have a new baby at the zoo, and when that baby is more than six feet tall, it’s an incredible moment,” said Houston Zoo Hoofed Stock Supervisor John Register. “Our team is thrilled to welcome a new baby to our giraffe herd.” The calf weighs 160 pounds and is 6 feet 3 inches tall.
On average, giraffe pregnancies last from 14 to 15 months. A new born Masai giraffe calf typically weighs between 125 and 150 pounds at birth and measures approximately six feet tall. Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animals, with the average male standing at 17 feet tall and weighing 2,500 pounds. Females average more than 14 feet tall.
Over the last decade, the number of giraffes in the wild has dropped by 40%, with less than 80,000 giraffes remaining. Of the nine subspecies of giraffes, the Houston Zoo is now home to nine Masai giraffes, including five males and four females. According to the statistics available from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there are currently slightly more than 100 Masai giraffes living in 28 North American zoos.
The honor of naming the newest member of the Houston Zoo herd will go to Jim Postl, Houston Zoo board of directors’ member, who won the naming rights during an enthusiastic live auction at the 2015 Zoo Ball. After a few days bonding with her mother, the new calf will make her public debut.