- Arrived from Los Angeles Zoo on March 10, 2010
- Was born in February 2008 at the Los Angeles Zoo and was hand-raised by keepers
- Has light-colored lips
- Is described by keepers as a great mother
- Arrived from Parc Safari in Quebec, Canada in December 2011
- Has sired eight calves since he arrived
- Is considered North America’s most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe
- 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
- Was brought to Santa Barbara as a potential mate for Michael and delivered her first calf, Twiga, on March 27, 2020
- Was born at Cleveland Zoo in Ohio
- Has a distinctively dark face and a notch in her left ear
- Was introduced to the herd December 21, 2017
- Is a male calf, was born to Adia on March 27, 2020
- His name is pronounced “TWEE-gah” and means “giraffe” in Swahili
- Has fit in easily with the Zoo’s herd
The giraffe family here at the Santa Barbara Zoo is just a small part of the population of 123 Masai giraffes that live at 32 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!
On July 11, 2019, the IUCN announced that Masai giraffes are now endangered, primarily because of poaching and changes in land use. Of the nine subspecies of giraffes, Masai (the largest) and reticulated giraffes are endangered, and Nubian and Kordofan giraffes are critically endangered. There are an estimated 35,000 Masai giraffes currently, but their population has fallen by nearly 50% in the last three decades. Africa’s overall giraffe population has decreased by about 40% in that same timeframe.
Feed the Giraffes
When you have a giraffe encounter at the Zoo’s giraffe feeding deck, you help save endangered species in the wild. A portion of each feeding goes to both giraffe conservation in Africa and also to conservation efforts for local animals such as California condors, island foxes, and Western pond turtles.