Sunday, December 4, 2022

Meet the Virginia Zoo’s newest resident, and you can help name him

The Virginia Zoo welcomed a Masai giraffe calf on May 26.

It weighed 146 pounds, and stood about six feet tall. Mom, Noelle, is an attentive parent and the calf is nursing regularly and the two are bonding well. The Zoo’s male giraffe, Billy, is the father, according to a news release from the zoo.

Keeper and veterinary staff performed a neonatal exam of the calf about 24 hours after birth to make sure the calf is healthy and receiving everything it needs from its mother.

The calf was determined to be male. He quickly figured out how to maneuver his long legs. Giraffe calves stand, walk, and even run, not long after being born. This ability comes in handy for giraffe calves born in the African savannah, where potential predators could be nearby.

This birth brings the herd total to five: Imara and Kylie, the zoo’s two other female giraffes, Billy, Noelle and her new calf. Billy is also the father to Kylie, who just celebrated her first birthday last month. The breeding of Billy and Noelle was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Masai giraffes.

Masai giraffes are currently listed as endangered due to habitat loss and poaching, so the birth of this newest calf is especially important, according to the zoo.

To help support the Zoo’s operations, it is asking everyone to help name the baby giraffe. Anyone can submit a name suggestion for $5. The names will then be narrowed down to eight options by zoo staff and Billy, the calf’s father, will choose the final name.

Wait, how will a giraffe pick the name?

The zoo will reveal that during a “Virtual Voyage” on June 9.

Name entries will be accepted from today, June 1 to June 7, 2020, via the zoo’s website.

The top five names will be announced on June 8. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Zoo’s Emergency Operating Fund.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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