Look Out (and Up!) for the Zoo’s Newest Additions

Reid Park Zoo’s giraffe herd has grown by two!

Reticulated giraffes Penelope and Sota have arrived at their new home in Tucson from Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Penelope recently celebrated her second birthday on October 2 and is 11 feet and four inches tall. Sota (named for his home state of Minnesota) turned 1-year-old last month on September 10 and is currently 10 feet and 4 inches tall.

“Both giraffes are curious and were very quick to approach the Zoo’s animal care team. It’s exciting to see how comfortable they are with staff,” said Adam Ramsey, Animal Care Manager.

The Zoo’s other two giraffes, Jasiri and Denver, are being slowly introduced to their new companions. Introducing new animals is a slow process.

“While we know guests will be eager to meet Penelope and Sota, they may be in for a short wait,” said Sue Tygielski, Reid Park Zoo’s Director of Zoological Operations. The new additions need to be comfortable in the habitat prior to meeting Denver first and then Jasiri on habitat. The four can observe one another in the barn from a distance, but it will be several weeks before all four giraffes are visible at the Zoo on habitat all day.

Follow Reid Park Zoo on social media and at ReidParkZoo.org for updates on the giraffe herd and when guests can expect to meet Penelope and Sota.

Giraffes as a species are currently facing a silent extinction. For many years people thought the giraffe population numbers in the wild were healthy because giraffes are easy to identify in the wild due to their size and unique characteristics. However, when scientists looked at current population data they realized that giraffes have actually seen about a 40% decline in their population in just the last 30 years.

Their numbers are declining due to poaching, civil unrest, and loss of habitat. We can help giraffes by reducing our carbon footprint to stop climate change that is causing droughts in many areas of giraffe habitat. Reid Park Zoo supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) Program, providing fieldwork in Uganda.