Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's 10-year-old Msitu (muh - SEE’ - too), welcomed a calf to the herd Saturday, July 6, 2019. Msitu and the baby are doing well. The female calf is estimated to stand at approximately six-feet tall. Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will be named after she is 30 days old.
The calf is the sixteenth member of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s reticulated giraffe herd. The calf is the third offspring for mom, Msitu, and the fifth to be sired by dad, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED). The public will be allowed limited viewing opportunities as long as mom and baby are doing well.
When they’re born, giraffe calves are typically five to six feet tall and 150 to 200 pounds. This calf appears to be within those healthy parameters. The gestation time for a giraffe is a long 14 to 15 months.
Because Msitu was also born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, she has grown up in the culture of voluntary husbandry training that the Zoo is known for in the industry. This means that she voluntarily participates in her own health care, which fosters a strong trust relationship between keeper and animal.
Through this training, the Zoo was able to voluntarily draw blood, confirming Msitu’s ovulation at the time of breeding, and ultimately, confirmed the pregnancy early on. The Zoo was able to get ultrasound images of the calf during the pregnancy with Msitu’s cooperation, and they were even able to bank some of Msitu’s plasma, in case the calf had needed it after birth.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is not only a leader in the training and health of giraffe in human care, but they are also making a huge difference in the conservation of giraffe in the wild. Reticulated giraffe, the subspecies to which CMZoo’s herd belongs, are endangered. There are just over 11,000 mature reticulated giraffe individuals in the wild, and that population is decreasing. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the reticulated giraffe population has declined by 56% in the last thirty years.
In addition to keeping the species alive, by participating in a species survival plan and breeding a genetically diverse population in human care, CMZoo supports ongoing conservation efforts to help giraffe in the wild.
Msitu was born at CMZoo in February 2009. This is Msitu’s third calf, after giving birth to Emy in August 2013 and to Rae in April 2017. Emy, a female, now lives at Peoria Zoo in Peoria, Ill. Two-year-old female Rae was the youngest member of the herd at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but her new sibling, born today, has now changed that. CMZoo’s breeding program began in 1954. This calf’s birth brings the number of reticulated giraffe in the CMZoo herd to sixteen.