MEMPHIS, TENN. – Memphis Zoo is happy to announce the arrival of a baby reticulated giraffe at 2:09 p.m. Friday, August 10. Born on exhibit to mom “Akili,” the baby girl was named “Mashamba“ by keepers. Her name loosely translates to “fields” in Swahili and was chosen in honor of Fields Falcone, a former Zoo associate whose last day was Friday. Mashamba is the first newborn in the herd for 2018.
“We’re so excited to have this new girl join our giraffe family,” said Courtney Janney, area curator. “Akili is doing a great job as her mother and nursing has been confirmed. Both mom and baby seem to be doing great.”
This is the second birth for the new mom. Akili, herself born at Memphis Zoo to “Marilyn” in 2010, gave birth to “Bogey” last year. With Bogey, Akili did not show the typical mothering tendencies, such as allowing nursing. As a result, animal care staff intervened, and Bogey was bottle-reared by his keepers. Bogey responded well, and he is now thriving at Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia with brother Wakati.
After 24 hours of acclimation and close monitoring, Mashamba’s first medical check-up was performed. This first examination ensures that the new baby is healthy and nursing while also providing the baseline needed to assess future growth.
“With this being Akili’s second birth in just over a year, we’re pleased to see she’s exhibiting the qualities we would expect from a new mom,” shared Janney. “Mashamba’s neonatal exam went great and she looks strong and healthy at nearly 6-feet in height and 115 pounds.”
To help align Mashamba’s lower leg joints, splints have temporarily been placed on her hind legs. It’s not uncommon for animals like giraffes to be born with “crooked” legs, feet or joints due to its position in the mother’s womb. In most cases, the joints and limbs realign on their own with no issues in a few days following the birth. In some cases, like that of Mashamba, a bit more help and support is needed to ensure proper growth and development.
The giraffe herd at Memphis Zoo is currently at nine with the birth of Mashamba. 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. Last year, three giraffes were born. Memphis Zoo has kept reticulated giraffes in the collection since 1957.
Guests can begin viewing Mashamba today in the giraffe exhibit at Memphis Zoo.