Zoo & Aquarium News

YOUR TORONTO ZOO IS EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE ENDANGERED MASAI GIRAFFE MSTARI IS EXPECTING HER SECOND CALF

TORONTO, ON, Friday, May 7, 2021: In celebration of Mother’s Day, your Toronto Zoo is excited to announce that endangered Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) Mstari is expecting her second calf! Mstari is six months into her 13- to 16-month-long pregnancy, or just past the first trimester. Conceived at the beginning of November 2020, the calf is expected to arrive in early 2022 - there is considerable difficulty in pinpointing a due date since giraffe pregnancies can range from 400-488 days in length.

Your Toronto Zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program among accredited zoos that recommended the pairing of Kiko and Mstari. The future second-time parents are mom Mstari, born October 17, 2013 at the Toronto Zoo, and dad Kiko, born October 22, 2012 at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina. Your Toronto Zoo has raised 20 giraffes since 1974 with this upcoming birth being the second third-generation Toronto-born giraffe.

Before breeding introductions took place last fall, keepers began collecting fecal samples to track Mstari's progesterone (pregnancy hormone) levels.  Breeding was observed between Kiko and Mstari in October and early November, 2020. A lack of breeding activity at the end of November was the first sign of a suspected pregnancy, and confirmation was received on February 24, 2021 when the Toronto Zoo’s Reproductive Sciences branch detected elevated fecal progesterone levels.

The Toronto Zoo is excited that Mstari has reached the six-month milestone, but there are still another 8+ months before the calf is expected to arrive. Wildlife Care Keepers are preparing for the arrival of the baby – in fact, much of the baby proofing in the giraffe house is still in place! Mstari was an excellent first-time mom and it is expected she will be even better this time around.

Mstari and Kiko’s first calf was born at your Toronto Zoo on May 12, 2020. More than 20,000 people voted in 2020 to “Help Us Name #BabyLongLegs”, selecting the name Amani, which means “peace” in Swahili. Amani was given the esteemed last name of Innis Dagg to honour Canadian zoologist and giraffe pioneer Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. Amani’s growth has been regularly documented since she was born, providing age-specific data that helps researchers monitor the age structure of wild giraffe populations. This monitoring is a critical part of the conservation strategy: in December 2018, the conservation status of Masai giraffes was elevated to Endangered by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN). Fewer than 35,000 Masai giraffes survive in the wild, having experienced more than a 50% decline in the past 30 years.

“Needless to say, we are excited to announce that our endangered Masai giraffe family at your Toronto Zoo is growing,” says Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo. “With this being the second endangered Masai giraffe calf pregnancy at your Toronto Zoo in two years, we are proud to be contributing to the population of this endangered species. This is a great example of the critical work done at the Toronto Zoo with our world class animal care team,” he added.

In anticipation of this exciting new addition, the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy has re-launched their Room to Grow Campaign to raise money to support our growing giraffe family. Funds raised will support a three-phase plan to adjust the layout of the giraffe house, helping the giraffes and Wildlife Care staff better utilize the space. Planning for the first phase is nearly complete, and additional funding is needed for construction to begin.

The campaign will support three primary modifications:

  • Reconfiguring the house to add an additional 400 square feet of indoor giraffe space;
  • Adding a new giraffe door to improve connectivity and flexibility;
  • Moving the giraffe training chute to allow for better access to the giraffes by Wildlife Care staff and the veterinary team.

To view all details click here: https://www.torontozoo.com/mediaroom/press2021?pg=20210507

To watch the video click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78K_FX6kWJU

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Media Contact Information:

Amanda Chambers
Toronto Zoo’s Supervisor of Strategic Communications
achambers@torontozoo.ca

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