Zoo Knoxville announced Frances giraffe gave birth in the early morning hours Monday. The calf is nursing and appears to be healthy.
Frances and her new calf are being given plenty of quiet time to bond in the barn with the zoo’s other female Lucille and father Jumbe. Over the next few days, their team of caretakers will be monitoring the calf closely to make sure it is getting enough nourishment and gaining strength. When staff is confident Frances and the calf are ready, they will begin giving them access to controlled space outside.
This is the first giraffe birth at Zoo Knoxville in 17 years. This is also the first offspring for three-year-old Frances and 16-year-old male Jumbe (pronounced JOOM-bay). The two were paired on the recommendation of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a collaboration of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) working to save giraffes from extinction.
“We are celebrating the birth of our first giraffe calf in almost a generation,” said Lisa New, President and CEO. “This baby is a testament to what our zoo and the support of our community can do to ensure the survival of giraffes. When our guests visit the zoo, they are actively contributing to a larger conservation movement and this little giraffe is an inspiring ambassador.”
The population of wild giraffes has declined dramatically over the last few years, and now there are fewer than 100,000 giraffe left in Africa. They are threatened by habitat loss, competition with growing human populations and being hunted for bushmeat. With a recent 40% decrease in their populations, giraffe are now critically endangered.