Bringing new life into the world is a wondrous experience that is often an intimate event, but sometimes things go unexpectedly. The Virginia Zoo recently had a birth with an audience that was not expecting it and a baby giraffe was born right in front of their eyes. Imara, a Masai giraffe, gave birth to her brand new baby in September, giving the visitors to the zoo that day a special once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The zookeepers had been expecting the baby's arrival, but were uncertain of the exact date of delivery. The baby was born in the morning, in the giraffe barn at the zoo. Already 6 feet tall and weighing in at a hefty 122 pounds, the calf is thankfully strong, healthy, and full of personality. She was named Tisa, pronounced Tee-sah, which means nine in Swahili, representing her birthday—the 9th day of the 9th month—as well as the number of calves her mother has given birth to. Her big dad, Billy, has fathered a remarkable 15 giraffes so far. When she was born, a special “Zoodoption” package was offered to the public to celebrate Tisa's arrival. Those who purchased the packaged were entered to win a sneak peak at the baby in a behind-the-scenes giraffe tour, and a personal question and answer session with the giraffes' keeper.
The birth of Tisa has upped the total number of giraffes at the Virginia Zoo to five: Imara and her new calf Tisa, Noelle and her calf Mchanga (born in December), and Billy the dad. The breeding of Billy and Imara is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® for Masai giraffes.
Masai giraffes are noticeably darker than other giraffe species. Their distinctive patches are shaped like vine leaves, and are a deep cocoa brown in color, surrounded by the lighter, creamy background color. There are actually two sub-species of Masai giraffes—Masai giraffe and Luangwa giraffe. Just over 45,400 of this special giraffe species remain in the world.
According to the Virginia Zoo's website, Masai giraffes are currently listed as endangered due to habitat loss and poaching, so the birth of this newest calf is especially important. The zoo, understandably, is on cloud nine, and very proud after the very public birth of not-so-little Tisa.
To track Tisa's development, learn about the five Masaai giraffes, and to witness other exciting occurrences in the animal kingdom of the Virginia Zoo, visit their website, or check in with them on Instagram and Facebook.
Imara, a Masai giraffe considered endangered, gave birth to her 9th calf in front of delighted visitors to the Virginia Zoo.
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The baby giraffe was 6 feet tall at birth and named Tisa, which means nine in Swahili.
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