(KRON) — The Oakland Zoo welcomed a new resident this week. The zoo’s giraffe herd is celebrating the arrival of a new baby giraffe that was given birth to Thursday. The giraffe calf is the first giraffe born at the zoo in 11 years, according to zoo officials.
After a lengthy pregnancy — giraffes have a gestation period of 14-16 months — the calf’s mother Kijiji gave birth in the giraffe habitat. The new calf, a female that zoo officials have named Kendi, weighed 150 pounds and was already 6 feet 5 inches tall.
“Kendi” means “loved one” in Swahili, in what the zoo says is an homage to the language spoken in Kenya, where giraffes dwell in the wild.
Kendi’s mother Kijiji has reportedly already shown her protective, motherly side by guiding the calf into the giraffe barn, zoo officials said. Zoo keepers have set up a separate area in the barn for the calf and mother to bond.
Kendi is already on her feet, standing and walking around the enclosure and nursing from its mother. Zoo officials say the calf will remain behind the scenes with mom for a couple of weeks so the two can develop their relationship.
“We’re so excited to have a new baby join the herd. With the expertise of our staff, we’re prepared to assist Kijiji as she enters this stage in life as a new mother,” says Amy Phelps, Assistant Zoological Manager at Oakland Zoo.
New mom Kijiji arrived in 2020 from Lee Richardson Zoo on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. She is “curious, intelligent, and sassy,” according to her keepers.
Once Kendi has made her public debut at the zoo, there are plans to have a live stream for guests and zoo followers to tune in and follow her journey.