SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Santa Barbara Zoo’s newest Masai giraffe was born just four weeks ago on Nov. 2, and though she doesn't have a name just yet, zoo workers said she's already developed a unique feisty personality.
“She's just got a strong mind. She sort of knows what she wants to do. She's not going to be told what she has to do. She stands her ground with the other giraffes, but she is inquisitive and she's confident and she's willing to you know, she's willing to let her human caregivers know that,” said Santa Barbara Zoo Vice President of Animal Care and Health Julie Barnes.
Masai giraffes are endangered due to illegal hunting and habitat loss according to the zoo, so the introduction of this new calf is an important one.
The baby is the offspring of 9-year-old Adia and the zoo’s beloved Michael, who was put down earlier this year because of severe arthritis.
“Michael was critically important from a genetic perspective in the Masai population in North America, he was the most valuable, the genetically the most valuable male in North America when he was alive. So to have his offspring represented in the population is really important,” said Barnes.
For under $10, visitors will also have an opportunity to get up close and personal with the giraffes.
“We weren't expecting to see the baby giraffe and see this guy over here. So cute. And they wanted to feed him and it's just been a really cute experience for them, watching them interact with the animals,” said Vanessa Sasson, visiting from Fillmore.
The zoo will have an online naming competition in the coming weeks, where the community will get to decide on the top baby giraffe names.