(CNN) — The Columbus Zoo has welcomed a long-legged, endangered new addition: a baby Masai giraffe.
The unnamed newborn was born to 12-year-old mother Zuri on August 31, according to a news release from the zoo.
“Not only is the calf fiercely cute, but his birth is especially significant as it marks an important achievement for the future of this endangered species,” said the zoo.
After a few failed attempts, the baby boy was able to stand up, take a few steps, and nurse shortly after birth, says the zoo.
The day after his birth, zoo staff conducted a wellness exam and confirmed the calf is healthy.
Masai giraffes are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. There are around 35,000 of the subspecies left in Tanzania and Kenya, but their population is on the decline due to illegal hunting and the destruction of their habitat, says the organization.
The baby’s parents, Zuri and Enzi, were paired through the Species Survival Plan, a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to ensure endangered species maintain genetic diversity. The calf’s father was euthanized in 2021 due to chronic health issues, says the zoo.
The newborn has been a longtime coming: Giraffes gestate for 15 months, says the zoo.
The “miracle baby” is the 23rd giraffe born at the Columbus Zoo, said the statement.
“We were heartbroken to lose Enzi, and this calf is such an amazing gift to us and to the future of all Masai giraffes,” Shannon Borders, curator of the Columbus Zoo’s Heart of Africa region, said in the zoo’s statement. “This little one is truly our miracle baby, and it warms our hearts that Enzi’s legacy continues to live on to have such a positive impact.”
The calf’s birth is just one part of the zoo’s efforts to improve the Masai giraffe population, said the statement.
“From our successful giraffe breeding program, contributions to field conservation projects, and leadership in Animal Health initiatives benefiting giraffes, we are fully committed to making a difference for Masai giraffes and other species that rely on their place in nature,” said Columbus Zoo President and CEO Tom Schmid in the statement.
Guests won’t be able to see the mother and baby just yet, but the rest of the giraffe herd are still on display, the zoo added.
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