Welcome the first-ever giraffes born at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo
by Erin Lenz
Since the giraffe program started at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in 2018, the goal has been to have healthy baby giraffes born at the Zoo to further conservation of the species. That dream came to fruition on January 29, 2022, when the Zoo welcomed its first baby giraffe, Mosi. Mosi, meaning “first” in Swahili, was born to mom, Zawadi.
Giraffe keepers began planning for Mosi’s birth months in advance. A birthing stall was set up with eight inches of mulch to stimulate natural substrate and provide traction for mom and baby. Cameras were also set up in the birthing stall so zookeepers could monitor Zawadi. The birth went smoothly, and Mosi was on her feet walking within an hour, and nursing within two hours.
Mosi was the first of three giraffes born at the Zoo in 2022.
Kay was the second baby giraffe born at the Zoo, but she was the first to be hand-raised by the Lincoln Children’s Zoo team. She was born on February 27th, 2022, to mom, Allie and dad, Joey. First-time mom, Allie, was unable to perform typical maternal duties. So, for Kay’s safety the giraffe team had to step in and hand-raise her. Kay wasn’t eating enough and started to develop a respiratory infection. The Zoo team worked tirelessly to take care of Kay, gave her IV antibiotics, IV fluids and a life-saving transfusion of plasma from a donor giraffe at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. Her health began to improve, and the team started to feed Kay whole goat’s milk from local ShadowBrook Farm in Lincoln. The Zoo pulled together to support Kay through a scary first few days of life and because of the team’s hard work, Kay is healthy and thriving today.
The third and final giraffe born in 2022 was Mario, born on June 23, 2022, to mom Kendy and dad, Joey. Mario was the first male giraffe calf born at the Zoo.
Lincoln Children’s Zoo CEO, Evan Killeen, says he is incredibly proud of the Zoo’s team for welcoming three healthy giraffe calves into the herd. “One of our dreams when we created the expansion of the Zoo was to become a top-notch giraffe breeding facility to aid in conservation of the species, and we’ve made incredible progress in four years.”
Visitors should hurry to the Zoo to see these calves, because they may not be at Lincoln Children’s Zoo throughout all of 2023. Each of these calves are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan Program and are important to the genetic diversity of the giraffe population. Because of this, these giraffes will eventually move to other zoos to breed with genetically diverse giraffes, which helps protect the species, so the population is healthy, and the species is around for the long-term future. Fortunately, Lincoln Children’s Zoo anticipates many more giraffe calves in its future.
Guests can feed a giraffe all year-round at the Zoo, so make sure to stop by the giraffe barn during your next visit!