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Masai Giraffe Calf Amari makes her exhibit debut at Franklin Park Zoo

Visitors to Franklin Park have another face to look up to now that Masai giraffe calf, Amari, has made her exhibit debut.

Staff at Franklin Park Zoo are thrilled to introduce guests to Masai giraffe calf, Amari, who made her exhibit debut on the Giraffe Savannah this morning. She can be seen on exhibit with her mother Jana. While she gets used to the new space, her father Beau and the Grevy’s zebras will not be on exhibit.

“Caring for Amari is truly a labor of love, and our dedicated staff has been going above and beyond to care for this growing giraffe and ensure that she continues to thrive. We are thrilled that guests now have the opportunity to see her explore the Giraffe Savannah with her mother Jana,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO, who added,” Amari is an incredible ambassador for her species and through her story, we have the opportunity to educate people about wild giraffe populations and the urgent need to protect them in the wild.”

Standing at approximately 7 and a half feet tall, Amari continues to thrive thanks to the dedicated staff who have been caring for her since her birth on July 24. Due to medical issues at birth, it was determined that the calf’s best chance of survival would require hand-rearing.

Caring for the calf has required around the clock dedicated attention, coordination and teamwork by the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Each morning at 6:00 a.m., zookeepers are in the barn preparing Amari’s bottles for the day. She is bottle fed three times throughout the day, drinking a total of 11 liters of goat’s milk. She has also started to eat lettuce, with kale being her favorite. Like her mom Jana, she also likes browse.

Amari’s birth comes at a pivotal time for the giraffe population. A report published earlier this month in Current Biology has uncovered some unexpected findings on the status of giraffes. Up to this point, only one species of giraffe, comprised of several subspecies, had been known to exist. Taking into account skin biopsies on 190 giraffes throughout Africa, this new study finds that there are, in fact, four very distinct species. These four species include northern giraffe, southern giraffe, reticulated giraffe, and Masai giraffe, the latter being the species that can be seen at Franklin Park Zoo. It has been reported that the differences among giraffe species are as great as those between polar bears and brown bears.

Over the past 15 years, giraffe numbers have steadily declined from an estimated 140,000 to around 90,000 today. Despite these alarming figures, giraffes have received a surprisingly small amount of research, particularly when compared to other large animals including elephants and rhinos. With these new findings, the hope is that giraffe conservation will gain new attention on the global map. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) currently classifies giraffes as being of “least concern” in the wild, but with these newly found distinctive species, the classification of each can be more defined and receive individual placement on the IUCN Red List.

As an active participant in the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), Zoo New England plays an important role in the protection of this species. Beau and Jana were bred as part of this cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species.

Zoo New England has also supported a number of organizations in support of giraffe conservation, including the Reticulated Giraffe Project, the White Oak Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Global, and the Sahara Conservation Fund. The Zoo also hosts yearly events on World Giraffe Day to raise funds and awareness for the species.

Amari will continue to be bottle fed until she is six to eight months old. Please note: Due to weather and animals’ needs, giraffes may not be on exhibit daily.  

Photos courtesy of Kayla St. George and Chris Bartos


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