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Naming Zoo’s New Giraffe Calf a Tall Order

Long-necked little one born March 14 is 6 feet tall, 180 lbs.

Masai giraffe Audrey looks after her new calf.
Masai giraffe Audrey looks after her new calf. (Santa Barbara Zoo)
New Masai giraffe reported to be in good health Click to view larger
New Masai giraffe reported to be in good health (Santa Barbara Zoo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe Audrey has given birth to a female calf. The two are currently bonding in the Giraffe Barn and are off view to the public,

The calf was born around 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 14. She is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs about 180 lbs.

The calf will be named as part of a contest sponsored by the Zoo and KEYT News Channel 3.

“This was the fastest birth Audrey has had,” said Michele Green, the zoo's curator of mammals. “It was smooth and progressed well, and the calf stood up and was nursing in only two hours.

"Audrey is calm, and this calf appears to be figuring things out very quickly. We couldn’t be happier for mom and baby.”

The calf had her first medical exam the day after she was born. Her height, weight and general health were assessed by veterinarian Dr. Diana Boon, who is caring for the zoo’s animals while the director of animal health and care is on sabbatical.

“We’re happy to report back that the calf is a strong and healthy female,” said Dr. Boon. "Audrey is an experienced mother and is taking great care of her.”

Animal care staff will determine when the calf will leave the Giraffe Barn, weather conditions permitting. Until that time, Audrey and the newborn calf are not on view to the public.

Name the Calf voting opens March 16

The calf’s name will be decided via popular vote by the public in a contest co-sponsored by the zoo and KEYT NewsChannel 3.

Voters can choose from four names that have been selected by zoo giraffe keepers and supporters. The names are Amirah, Makena, Nugget and Quintin. The name receiving the most votes will be announced live on KEYT at a later date.

Voting opens March 16 at and

The public also can help the zoo welcome the new zoo addition by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the giraffe calf. A $50 donation helps with the cost of feeding the growing giraffe family.

New giraffe Foster Feeders receive a baby photo of the calf along with a certificate, giraffe fact sheet, and recognition on the zoo’s Foster Feeder board. For information, visit

Santa Barbara Zoo and Masai giraffes

Audrey arrived in Santa Barbara in March 2010, from the Los Angeles Zoo, where she was born on Feb. 6, 2008.

Michael, the calf’s sire, arrived from Parc Safari in Quebec, Canada, in January 2012. He is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in captivity, because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born at Santa Barbara Zoo.

Michael’s genetics help the diversity of the North American Masai population.

Joining Michael and Audrey in the zoo’s herd is Parker, a male calf born in August 2016 to former resident Betty Lou (she recently was moved to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo); and Adia, a 3-year-old female from the Cleveland Zoo.

Adia was introduced to the herd in December 2017 as a potential mate for Michael.

The zoo’s giraffe herd is among more than 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

There are an estimated 37,000 Masai giraffes in Kenya and Tanzania, but a more thorough census is required. They are at risk due to poaching and habitat loss and degradation.

Giraffes are the tallest land mammals. The Masai is the largest subspecies, growing up to 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; general admission is $18 for adults, $13 for seniors 65 and older, $10 for children ages 2-12, and children under age 2 are free.

Parking is $8 weekdays, $11 on weekends and holidays. Visit

— Lauren Gonzales for the Santa Barbara Zoo.

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