The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is excited to announce the arrival of a female giraffe calf born on October 10, 2023 to mother Julu (8). This is Julu’s second offspring with Demetri (6) who are also parents to Njeri born September 2021 and the first giraffe birth to occur at the OKC Zoo’s state-of-the-art Giraffe House presented by The Ann Lacy Foundation at Expedition Africa. The Zoo’s giraffe caretakers share that the yet-to-be-named calf is healthy and thriving, standing 5-foot, 11-inches tall and weighs approximately 160 lbs. She was standing and nursing within one hour of being born both important milestones for a newborn calf. Caretakers also note the little giraffe is curious about her surroundings and has an independent nature about her. Both Julu and calf will remain off public view at the giraffe barn to allow them time to bond. In the next few weeks, caretakers will begin the process of introducing other herd members to the new calf.
“It’s been extremely rewarding to watch Julu raise her first calf, Njeri, and we’re thrilled to welcome the newest member to our amazing giraffe herd,” said OKC Zoo’s Curator of Ungulates, Tracey Dolphin. “This birth is significant for this endangered species and for the Zoo’s commitment to helping conserve giraffe populations.”
Julu was born at the OKC Zoo in 2015 to herd matriarch, Ellie. The calf’s father, Demetri, arrived from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas, in 2018, as part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe Species Survival Plan® (SSP). SSPs are cooperative, long-term management programs designed to maintain genetically viable and geographically stable populations of specific species. This calf is the 58th giraffe to be born at the Zoo since the first giraffe birth in 1965. In addition to Julu, Demetri, Ellie and the new calf, the Zoo is home to Solstice (14), Mashamba (5) and Njeri (2).
Earlier this summer, the OKC Zoo’s giraffe herd successfully moved into their enhanced barn at Expedition Africa presented by Inasmuch Foundation. The brand-new barn features specialized flooring, custom doors for ventilation and dedicated stalls for herd enrichment, medical procedures and births, all elements designed to provide the best quality of care and wellbeing for the Zoo’s giraffes. The new barn also offers indoor viewing and feeding opportunities for Zoo guests to connect with these gentle giants year-round.
The OKC Zoo will continue to provide updates about its littlest giraffe and entire herd plus, progress regarding Expedition Africa on its socials.
Since the 1980s, giraffe populations in Africa have dropped 30%. The primary reason for the decline is habitat loss. Human activities such as agricultural expansion, logging and urban development have drastically reduced available giraffe habitat. Currently, only 10% of the historic range for giraffes remains. As these spaces shrink, giraffes are forced to move elsewhere and face increased competition for resources. Conservation efforts to address these threats are essential to protect this endangered species for future generations. The Oklahoma City Zoo is contributing to giraffe conservation by supporting Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) with funds raised through the Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation program. The Oklahoma Zoological Society’s 2023 fundraiser event, ZOObrew held on September 29 also raised $25,000 for GCF. GCF is an international science-based conservation organization that provides innovative approaches to save giraffes in the wild. OKC Zoo is also a founding member of AZA’s Giraffe SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program. Guests can help protect giraffe, wildlife and wild places by supporting the Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation program and rounding up when making purchases in the park.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with the last entry at 4 p.m. Purchase advance Zoo admission tickets at okczoo.org/tickets and avoid the entry lines. Located at the crossroads of I-44 and I-35, the OKC Zoo is a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Alliance of Museums, Oklahoma City’s Adventure District and an Adventure Road partner. Regular admission is $16 for adults and $13 for children ages 3-11 and seniors ages 65 and over. Children two and under are admitted free. Find all your wild OKC Zoo news on Facebook, X, Instagram, Linktree, Threads and TikTok and by visiting our blog stories. Looking for a year of Zoo adventures? Consider a 12-month, ZOOfriends Membership Passport to the OKC Zoo providing general admission year-round and exclusive offers while supporting the Zoo’s ongoing animal care and conservation programs. Memberships can be purchased at okczoo.org/membership.