The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is thrilled to announce another addition to its animal family, a giraffe calf born to six-year-old, Julu. First-time mom, Julu, gave birth to a female calf on Wednesday, September 15 at 8:21 a.m. at the Zoo’s giraffe habitat barn. The yet-to-be-named calf is the second to be fathered by four-year-old, Demetri, and the second calf born at the Zoo this summer following the arrival of Kioni, born on June 3, to mom, Ellie, 21. The Zoo’s newest youngster stood up in less than an hour after birth and began nursing shortly after. The calf weighs approximately 130 lbs. and stands at five-foot seven. She will continue to spend time bonding with Julu and her herd mates behind the scenes.
“Watching Julu grow from a young calf to becoming a mother herself has been a rewarding experience for the Hoofstock team,” said OKC Zoo’s Curator of Hoofstock and Primates, Tracey Dolphin. “We’re proud to welcome these two calves to our animal family as part of the Zoo’s commitment to preserving giraffes for generations to come.”
Julu was born at the Zoo in 2015 to herd matriarch, Ellie. The calf’s father, Demetri, arrived from the Fossil Rim in Glen Rose, Texas, in 2018, as part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival Plan® (SSP). SSPs are cooperative, long-term management programs designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species. Giraffes have been part of the Zoo’s animal family since 1954 and the first giraffe calf was born in 1967, making this new calf the 58th giraffe to be born at the Zoo. In addition to Julu, Ellie, Demetri and the two calves, the Zoo is home to three-year-old female, Mashamba.
Female giraffes give birth standing up, meaning the calves fall about six feet to the ground at birth. Giraffe calves are able to stand up within the first hour of life, and are able to run around 10 hours after birth!
Native to East and South Africa, giraffes are currently listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are approximately 111,000 giraffes remaining in the wild, an almost 40% decline since the 1980s. This population decline is caused by illegal poaching and habitat destruction. The Zoo has contributed to giraffe conservation for decades by supporting the Northern Rangelands Trust and the Giraffe Conservation Fund, as well as becoming a member of AZA’s Giraffe Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) partner organization in 2018.
Weather depending, guests may get a chance to see Julu and her calf in the giraffe habitat within the next few days. Until then, Julu and the calf will continue to bond behind the scenes inside the giraffe habitat barn. Updates on Julu and her calf, as well as the other members of the giraffe tower, will continue to be posted on the Zoo’s social media.
Hoof it to the Zoo to meet its two giraffe calves! The Oklahoma City Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last entry no later than 4 p.m. Purchase advance tickets at www.okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $12 for adults and $9 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Stay connected with the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and by visiting our blog stories. Zoo fans can support the OKC Zoo by becoming a ZOOfriends member. Starting at $45, memberships can be purchased at ZOOfriends.org and provide access to the OKC Zoo for an entire year plus, additional benefits and discounts. To learn more about Zoo happenings, call (405) 424-3344 or visit okczoo.org.