In the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Mstari, a six-year-old female Masai giraffe at the Toronto Zoo, gave birth to a healthy calf. Both mom and calf are doing well and Wildlife Care Keepers continue to monitor Mstari and calf closely to ensure calf continues to nurse from Mstari regularly.
This is the first offspring for both mother Mstari and father Kiko, a seven-year-old male who came to Toronto Zoo from Greenville Zoo in South Carolina in 2015. The pairing of Kiko and Mstari was at the recommendation of the AZA Masai giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program among accredited zoos.
This birth is important for Masai giraffe conservation as the species was elevated to Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in December 2018. Fewer than 35,000 Masai giraffes survive in the wild, having experienced more than a 50% decline in the past 30 years. Illegal hunting and habitat loss are their primary threats. The Toronto Zoo is part of the AZA Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP) and continues to support field conservation efforts for the species; Mstari is currently the most genetically valuable female in the SSP, and so this calf represents an important genetic contribution to the North American population. The Toronto Zoo has had 19 giraffes born since 1980, and this birth represents the first third-generation Toronto-born giraffe - both Mstari and her mother, Twiga, were also born at the Toronto Zoo. #savingspecies