Reid Park Zoo Welcomes Giraffe Calf Born on MLK Day

Penelope, Reid Park Zoo’s female giraffe, welcomed her first calf on the afternoon of Monday, January 15, 2024 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Penelope, affectionately known as “Penny,” went into labor around noon Monday, and gave birth to a male calf several hours later. Both mom and baby are doing well. The calf is standing and nursing, and Penelope has been very attentive and nurturing to her newborn. The newcomer, who measured approximately 6 feet tall at birth, is the first giraffe born at Reid Park Zoo in nearly 24 years.

“We’re excited to be able to bring baby giraffes back to Tucson after such a long time, and inspire future generations to conserve these amazing animals,” said Adam Ramsey, Director of Animal Care.

Mom and calf are behind the scenes having some quiet bonding time. The Zoo expects the pair will be on habitat in a few days.

Penelope came to Reid Park Zoo in 2020 as a part of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan with a breeding recommendation for Jasiri, the Zoo’s male giraffe and father of the calf.

Penny, Jasiri, and the yet unnamed calf are reticulated giraffes, featuring distinctive chestnut colored patches outlined by thin white lines.

Reid Park Zoo supports the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) Program, providing fieldwork in Uganda to stabilize wild populations of the endangered reticulated giraffes. By supporting Reid Park Zoo, guests are also helping support these programs.

This birth marks the second in Reid Park Zoo’s current “baby boom.” The Zoo recently welcomed a Grevy’s zebra foal on Christmas morning, and is also preparing for the birth of an African elephant calf in the coming months.

Photos of Penelope can be found on Dropbox.