The Toronto Zoo is ringing in World Giraffe Day with an exciting announcement – Mstari, one of their Masai giraffes, is pregnant. The Toronto Zoo's new baby giraffe will be the first born for the expectant mother, who is five months into her 15-month long pregnancy. Sadly, that means we won’t be visiting this baby giraffe until sometime in the spring of 2020.
According to the zoo, the calf is expected to arrive in mid-April. However, giraffe pregnancies can range from 400-488 days in length, which means it’s a guessing-game to pinpointing when the little one will come. Since it is Mstari first calf, Wildlife Care Keepers are preparing for a high-risk pregnancy since they are unsure how the giraffe will react to the arrival of her baby. Keepers are also working to calf-proof the giraffe habit ensuring that the baby will thrive in a safe space.
Back in December of 2018, the conservation status of Masai giraffes was raised to "endangered" by International Union for Conservation and Nature. Less than 35,000 Masai giraffes live in the wild have experienced a more than 50% decline in the past 30 years.
According to the zoo, illegal hunting and habitat loss are the primary forces behind the steep drop off in population. Mstari is currently the most genetically valuable female in North America, which the birth of her baby an important one.
“Masai giraffes are under increasing pressure due to habitat loss and illegal hunting,” Eric Cole, Acting Director of Wildlife and Welfare, said in a press release, according to CTV. “It is important to educate the public on their plight in the wild and do everything we can to prevent the threats they face and halt declining populations.
The Toronto Zoo has bred 19 giraffes since 1974 with Mstari’s new calf being the very first third-generation birth at the zoo. The pregnancy announcement comes on World Giraffe Day which is marked on June 21.
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.