After seven days and more than 50,000 votes, the world has spoken: Katie’s famous calf is named “Kipenzi” (kih-PEHN-zee), meaning “loved one” in Swahili. Dallas Zoo keepers revealed the name in a creative presentation Monday morning on the Animal Planet L!VE web cameras which first introduced the lanky baby to the world two weeks ago.
Friday night at 8 p.m., the new calf gets the world’s biggest nightlight, too, when Dallas’s iconic Reunion Tower will be emblazoned with her name, a giraffe pattern and “Dallas Zoo.”
“We’re elated that so many people voted on the name of Katie’s calf,” said Gregg Hudson, the Dallas Zoo’s president and chief executive officer. “Because so many asked for the baby to be named after their loved ones, ‘Kipenzi’ is a perfect choice to honor the spirit of those heartfelt requests.”
Millions worldwide fell in love with Katie and her calf April 10 during a remarkable live birth shown to adoring fans on cable television’s Animal Planet and Animal Planet L!VE web cameras. The birth saw more than 2 million streams on APL.tv., and the “Giraffe Birth Live” TV special the next day drew 1.4 million viewers. The social media accounts of both the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet received hundreds of thousands of messages of support for the unprecedented project.
“We knew this live birth project would resonate with many people, but we were overwhelmed by the response,” Hudson said. “We are extremely proud of the expertise and dedication of our keepers and veterinary team, and this was a bold and unique way of pulling back the curtain to show the excellent care we provide every day to those in our care.”
“It’s been an honor to partner with the Dallas Zoo to bring Katie’s miraculous journey to motherhood to millions on Animal Planet and Animal Planet L!VE,” said Rick Holzman, general manager and executive vice president of Animal Planet. “After the past several weeks of following these majestic giraffes around the clock, little Kipenzi feels like a part of our family — and I’m sure countless others feel the same way.”
The cameras will remain live at apl.tv/giraffe until 7 a.m. Monday (April 27), when viewers will have to say goodbye to the little one they’ve grown to love.
The calf has been gently introduced to the Giants of the Savanna outdoor feeding habitat over the past few days. Starting early next week, she will make regular appearances outdoors, weather permitting. Zookeepers will keep a close eye on wind and rain to ensure that Kipenzi remains safe and healthy.
She will slowly meet all members of the herd, including her 6-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,” the zoo’s oldest and most patient giraffe who does the best around new calves.
Kipenzi’s remarkable birth also has allowed the Dallas Zoo to raise money for wildlife conservation. A friend of the zoo offered to match any donations made in the baby’s honor, up to $25,000. All donations will go directly to help rescue and support threatened wildlife in Africa, including giraffes. Donations will be accepted through Sunday at bit.ly/KatieBabyGive.
The calf’s father is Tebogo, one of the most popular giraffes at the Dallas Zoo. The now 13-member herd roams the award-winning Giants of the Savanna, the only U.S. zoo habitat where giraffes and elephants mingle alongside zebra, impala, guineafowl and other African species. The habitat is currently in the running for USA Today’s “Best Zoo Exhibit.” Please continue voting for us until Monday, April 27 at bit.ly/DZVote.
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 ensuring appropriate breeding for genetic diversity.
WATCH the giraffe keepers reveal Kipenzi’s name: