Virginia Zoo is on Cloud 9 after Giraffe Birth

NORFOLK VA – Virginia Zoo Keepers are delighted to welcome a newborn Masai female giraffe calf born on September 9, 2022. At birth, the baby weighed 122.5 pounds and stood 6’ tall. This is the ninth calf for mom, Imara, and fifteenth for dad, Billy. Keepers have named the baby, Tisa, which means nine in Swahili to represent her unique birthday and the number of her mother’s births.

The arrival of the calf was also unique with Zoo visitors being able to experience the birth, which occurred that morning in the Zoo’s giraffe barn. Zoo’s Animal Care Staff had been preparing for the calf’s arrival although the exact due date is never certain. A neonatal exam was performed 24 hours after the birth by the Zoo’s Veterinarian, Dr. Tara Reilly, with the assistance of Keepers and Veterinary Technicians. The exam revealed the calf is healthy and full of personality! Mom and baby are bonding, and the calf is nursing well. She appears strong and is already learning to run!

This birth brings the herd total to five: females, Imara and her calf Tisa, Noelle and her calf Mchanga who was born in December, and Billy. The breeding of Billy and Imara is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® 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.

To celebrate the arrival of Tisa, the Zoo is offering a $9.99 digital giraffe Zoodoption special, where patrons can symbolically adopt the new calf until September 30! Those who purchase the digital Zoodoption special will be entered to win a “Sneak Peak” behind-the-scenes giraffe tour that features a meet and greet with the adopted animal and personal Q&A with the giraffe’s keeper. The digital Zoodoption special can be purchased at Proceeds from this special promotion will benefit enrichment items for the Zoo’s giraffe herd and the Zoo’s Act for Wildlife fund that supports conservation efforts locally and around the world.