MEMPHIS, TENN. – July 14, 2017 – Memphis Zoo is happy to announce the arrival of a baby reticulated giraffe at approximately 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 12. The new addition, a male named “Wakati” by the keepers, was born on exhibit as his mom, Wendy, chose to remain outside through labor in the giraffe lot open area.
Wakati is Memphis Zoo’s second giraffe birth in three months. His parents are first-time mom Wendy and father, Niklas, who is also dad to Bogey, born April 3 of this year. Wakati‘s mom Wendy was born at Memphis Zoo in 2010 to mother Marilyn who remains in the Zoo herd. Eight-year-old Niklas came to Memphis Zoo in 2015 from the Naples Zoo in Florida. The gestation period for a reticulated giraffe is 15 months.
“We are thrilled to welcome Wakati to our giraffe family as we’ve been waiting awhile for this new baby,” shared Courtney Janney, area curator. “Wakati means “time” in Swahili and we felt it was a good fit for our new arrival. Wendy immediately began showing appropriate maternal instincts and we anticipate her keeping a close eye on Wakati as he integrates into the herd and begins to show independence.”
After 24 hours of acclimation and close monitoring, Wakati’s first medical check-up was performed. This first examination ensures that the new baby is healthy and nursing while providing the baseline needed to assess future growth.
“Wakati’s neonatal exam went great! He looks strong and healthy,” said Dr. Felicia Knightly, senior veterinarian at Memphis Zoo Animal Hospital. “Wakati is 5’10” in height and weighed in at 125 pounds. He’s nursing well and Wendy is already taking good care of him.”
Wakati has also been welcomed into the herd by another female, Angela Kate, who was in the yard during Wakati’s first steps. Although Wendy started to bond with Wakati moments after the birth by licking him clean and encouraging first steps, Angela Kate remained close by to help.
The giraffe herd at Memphis Zoo has climbed to nine with the birth of Wakati. From 1996 to 2006, Memphis Zoo did not have a single giraffe birth. Since 2006, at least one new giraffe calf has been born every year. Memphis Zoo has kept reticulated giraffes in the collection since August 1957.
Guests can begin viewing Wakati today in the giraffe exhibit at Memphis Zoo.