The Santa Barbara Zoo welcomed the newest addition to its family on Friday, March 27: a six-foot, 125.5-pound baby male giraffe named Twiga.
Twiga, whose name directly translates to “giraffe” in Swahili, is the firstborn calf to his mother, Adia, who is 5 years old. Twiga’s father, Michael, has been with the zoo since 2011 and is the most genetically important male Masai giraffe in North America because he is only related to his offspring, making him an ideal candidate for mating. He has since sired eight calves. The Masai species is considered endangered.
“This birth is special in so many ways,” said Dr. Julie Barnes, the zoo’s vice president of animal care and health. “It’s always a joy to see a new life begin, but we think it’s especially meaningful right now as a beacon of hope and good news during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Twiga and Adia will continue to bond “behind the scenes” until zookeepers determine she is ready to leave the giraffe barn. Twiga’s arrival makes five total Masai giraffes in the zoo. They are among more than 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.