Discovery Kingdom’s newest addition

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has announced a new addition, but it’s not a new coaster or thrill ride like you might be thinking….

giraffeVALLEJO, CA  (December 18, 2009) Christmas has arrived early at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom as park officials announced today the December 14th birth of a 126-lb., five-foot-tall baby – giraffe, that is. The male reticulated giraffe’s auspicious arrival marks the first giraffe birth at the park since 1992 and brings the giraffe herd to six individuals. Guests to the park will have limited viewing opportunities to see mother and baby starting December 26.

“We are thrilled to welcome this new addition to our family,” said Eric Gilbert, Park President. “This may be a cliché’, but the miracle of birth, especially of this remarkable species, is truly something to behold. I give credit to our dedicated staff for all of the work they did to ensure the comfort and safety of the mother and baby during the birthing process.”

The young male, whose birth was witnessed by animal and veterinary staff inside a temperature-controlled indoor barn, was born at 2:06 p.m., Monday, December 14. Staff members, eagerly anticipating the calf’s arrival, were monitoring the mother around the clock. On this particular day, keeper Michael Owyang had finished cleaning out the giraffe barn just after noon when he saw a pair of feet encased in an embryonic sac conspicuously dangling from the four-year-old female, Makali.  Within two hours, what appeared to be a head poked out of the standing mother and within minutes, the baby giraffe was born.

“This was an exciting moment for us,” said Amy Clancy, Land Animal Manager. “Makali stayed calm and appeared quite comfortable during the entire birthing process.  We’re really impressed with the exceptional maternal skills she’s exhibited and her gentleness. We couldn’t be more pleased and overjoyed.”

The female, Makali, was born at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo in Fresno, Calif., and the arrival in 2008 of the six-year-old sire Nyumekye (pronounced NOO-MEH-KEE) from Safari West in Santa Rosa, Calif., provided the herd with a proven breeder. With this birth, Discovery Kingdom, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is now an active participant in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the population management of giraffes.  The newborn offers a new bloodline to continue genetic diversity in the North American captive population.

The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) is the most familiar of the nine giraffe subspecies and are characterized by their unique polygonal patterns outlined by narrow cream-colored lines.  Males can reach up to 18-feet in height and weigh up to 4,200 lbs., females can grow up to 15 feet and weigh up to 2,600 lbs. Reticulated giraffes are native to northeast Africa, Somalia and northern Kenya.

In addition to Makali and the newborn, Discovery Kingdom is home to four other giraffes, the oldest, Nairobi, a 20-year-old female was born at the park in 1989 and was present in a separate stall during the birth. She and 22-month-old female Rosie and two-year-old male Nakuru, were among the first to greet the yet-unnamed calf — reaching through and over adjoining stalls, to lick his head and sniff his face.

With the arrival of the new giraffe calf – the first born at the park in over 17-years – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will be conducting a naming contest to launch in the coming weeks.

“We are looking for a special name for a special individual whose birth during the height of the holiday season is a wonderful Christmas present and the perfect end to the 2009 season,” said Gilbert.


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