• Was born in February 2008 at the Los Angeles Zoo and was hand-raised by keepers
  • Has light-colored lips
  • Gave birth to male calf Buttercup on November 13, 2014, and male calf Chad on March 26, 2016
  • Has given birth to two other calves, both male


  • Arrived from Parc Safari in Quebec, Canada in December 2011
  • Is considered North America’s most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe
  • Finally got here after 2 1⁄2 years in paperwork delays (to allow him into the U.S. due to restrictions on importing “hoof stock” after an outbreak of “Mad Cow Disease” in the 2000s)
  • Has bumps on his face made of calcium deposits, typical of male giraffes, in addition to “ossicones,” the horn-like growths atop his skull, which are found in both males and females


  • Is a 3-year-old female
  • Was born at Cleveland Zoo in Ohio
  • Was brought to Santa Barbara as a potential mate for Michael
  • Was introduced to the herd December 21, 2017


  • Is female, was born March 14, 2018 to Audrey

Giraffe Family

The giraffe family here at the Santa Barbara Zoo is just a small part of the population of 104 Masai giraffes that live at 28 accredited zoos in North America. Since Michael is the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe anywhere outside of Africa, our Zoo plays an important role in the overall population. This is why our adorable calves go off to start herds of their own (at other AZA-accredited zoos) and contribute their valuable genetics to the overall population.

From the Keepers

Michael hangs out at the Feeding Deck, and guests wonder if he gets full from all the lettuce he’s fed. We don’t worry about overfeeding him with lettuce because it is just fiber and water, and has few calories. Giraffes eat the equivalent of 2 percent to 4 percent of their body weight every day. For Michael, who weighs 2,700 pounds, that is split between 32 pounds of alfalfa and 23 pounds of specially-formulated herbivore grain pellets.

Wendy A.

Tallest in the Land

Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, growing to more than 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds. But even at that height, they have the same number of vertebrae in their necks as humans do.


We Miss Her Too!

Gemina was a Baringo giraffe with a crooked neck who lived at the Zoo for 20 years, until her death at the old age (in giraffe years) of 21 in 2008. No one knows why her neck gradually became crooked. She was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1986 with no known medical issues, did not appear to be in discomfort and was treated as a normal member of the herd. A new book recounts and celebrates her life.

Recently, Gemina’s rearticulated spine and skull have been put on display in the Zoo’s Discovery Pavilion. We’ll never forget her!

Conservation Status

Giraffe populations have seen huge declines in the wild, and the IUCN Red List recently changed their status from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable.” Currently, the number of Masai giraffes in Kenya and Tanzania is estimated to be 32,000. They are at risk due to poaching and habitat loss/degradation.