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Zoo News

Zoo News

MEET “KIPENZI!” Dallas Zoo’s new giraffe calf’s name wins by a neck
Apr 24, 2015

Baby’s name means “loved one” in Swahili; Donation challenge open through weekend to raise money for wildlife conservation in honor of viral star giraffe calf

After seven days of voting that drew more than 50,000 votes, the world has spoken: Katie’s now famous calf will be named “Kipenzi”, meaning “loved one” in Swahili. At dusk Friday evening, Dallas’s iconic Reunion Tower will light up “The Ball” with the calf’s name.

Millions of people across the world have fallen in love with Katie’s calf after she made her debut April 10 in front of millions of adoring fans on Animal Planet and Animal Planet L!VE. The “Giraffe Birth Live” TV special on Animal Planet drew 1.4 million viewers on April 11, and the live birth saw more than 2 million streams on

“We’re elated that the world chose Katie’s calf to be named ‘Kipenzi,’” said Gregg Hudson, the zoo’s chief executive officer and president. “Since so many folks asked for the baby to be named after their loved ones, we knew this name would genuinely honor the spirit of those requests.”

The baby has been gently introduced to the outdoor feeding yard habitat over the past few days. Starting early next week, the calf will make regular appearances outdoors, weather permitting. The giraffe keepers will keep a close eye on wind and rain to ensure the she remains safe and healthy.

Kipenzi will be slowly introduced to all members of the herd, including 5-month-old half-brother, Kopano, and 4-year-old sister, Jamie. Kipenzi has gained more than 30 pounds since birth and stands more than 6 feet tall. In the feed yard, she will join mom Katie and the only giraffe she’s met so far, “Uncle Auggie.” Auggie is the zoo’s oldest and most patient giraffe who does the best around new calves.

This remarkable birth also has allowed the Dallas Zoo to raise money for wildlife conservation. A friend of the zoo has agreed to match any donations made in the baby’s honor, up to $25,000. All donation will go directly to help rescue and support threatened wildlife in Africa, including giraffes. Donations will be accepted through Sunday at

Kipenzi’s father is Tebogo, one of the most popular giraffes at the Dallas Zoo. The now 14-member herd roams the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. The Dallas Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to allow giraffes and elephants to mingle with each other, alongside zebra, impala, guineafowl and other African species. The habitat is currently in the run for USA Today’s “Best Zoo Exhibit.”

A reticulated giraffe, Kipenzi is one of approximately 4,700 who remain, down from an estimated 31,000 in 1998, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Through the Species Survival Plan, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – including the Dallas Zoo – have built programs dedicated to appropriate breeding for genetic diversity.