MEET “KIPENZI”! Swahili word for ‘loved one’ wins by a neck

_MG_2136-CBAfter 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, 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 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_MG_2163-CB 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

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

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:

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Giraffe, Media, Social Media, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “MEET “KIPENZI”! Swahili word for ‘loved one’ wins by a neck

  1. Kathleen White

    By chance I found the link to Dallas Zoo and the imminent birth a few days before Kipenzi was born. I was hooked! Luckily, I happened to go to your site right about 5 p.m. on the 10th catching a site of Katie’s tail erect … I had a feeling something was about to happen and a second later out was the first hoof and then the leg – the second leg – then the muzzle and so forth. Worried when Katie laid down for that brief time. For nearly an hour I was captivated with joy, and cheering baby on and rooting for her to stand up. Amazing! Animal Chanel’s show on the birth was so tasteful and informative about the zoo and caretakers and showing the birth that I recorded it and watched it with my four-year-old granddaughter. When she saw the small amount of blood streaked on the baby she was concerned and I explained it was from the protective sac from when she lived inside and her mom would clean her off. She remarked, ‘Oh, like Mom cleans my nose sometimes.’ Just want to thank you for sharing – I wish the cameras could continue because I love checking in, but it has been an uplifting part of my days. Thank you and God Bless all the creatures large and small and their caretakers. 🙂

  2. Kathleen White

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this blessed event. God Bless all creatures large and small and their caretakers, too.

  3. Dawn

    I don’t know what I’m going to do without seeing her every minute. The entire herd has captured my heart. Thank you to all the people involved in their care. What a fine facility they have to live in. This brought so much to my life, you have no idea. Lots of smiles. I have pictures all because of this. Thank you again for letting us into their home and witnessing this kind of animal loving it’s young.

  4. Carolyn

    I will miss watching Kipenzi–this has brought so many people such joy ! I am so glad Animal Planet as well as all of the Zoo workers did this for the world!! We could use much more of this type of enjoyment & bringing of others together for a common cause–a wonderful event to be a part of !!
    Hate to see it come to an end. Hope we continue to get updates for those of us that can’t come to the Zoo !! Loved it !!!!!!!!

  5. Stacey

    I was visiting a very upset friend the night of Kipenzi’s birth. She was heartbroken because the day before, her beloved dog of just under nine years had passed. We were watching Animal Planet when the live birth came across the screen. We watched in amazement! I saw my friend smile. She said that made her entire day and that she saw the circle of life before her eyes. Welcome to the world, Kipenzi and thank you to the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet for that moment!!! New life brings hope and blessings into this world.

  6. Karen

    Thank You for allowing animal lovers to enjoy not only the birth but the first few weeks of Kip’s live. The live stream showed the endless love that Katie had for her calf. I was also impressed with the Dallas Zoo’s care for all the herd. I learned alot about the majastic giraffe during this journey. I wish miss Katie’s and Kip’s daily life, but look forward to a trip to the Dallas Zoo to visit them and the rest of the herd.

  7. Janice Oleson

    Thank you to the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet for letting us be a part of this blessed event! I have watched since two days prior to the birth until today at 7:00 a.m. when I had to say “so long, for now” to Katie and Kipenzi! I had wished that the cam could stay up until Mother’s Day, but I realize that as Katie grows, she needs more time outside and time to meet the other members of the herd. I have already decided that I want to spend my Mother’s Day at the zoo and perhaps I’ll get a peek at Katie and Kipenzi!!!!

  8. Adorable it is soooo cute

  9. Azindn

    Watching the footage of the birth of Katy and her calf on Animal Planet this Mother’s Day morning. Fabulous. I wish there was more discussion in future about the hooves of a newborn which have very interesting development after the birth. Love watching the baby stand!

  10. Kelly

    Thank you so much for allowing the world to witness Kipenzi’s birth! It was not only educational and heartwarming but a once in a lifetime event in many of our lives. I had been checking in on Katie after hearing about the upcoming birth on Animal Planet. I just happened to be watching a program in Animal Planet when coverage of Katie cut in. Sitting beside me was my 88 year old grandmother, Betty. Gram and I watched in amazement, cheering Katie and the baby we now know as Kipenzi on with encouragement. While seeing little Kipenzi be born and then struggle to get those long knobby legs underneath her so that she could stand up, I took the occasional glimpse at my grandmother who was completely engrossed, amazed and smiling. My grandmother and I have always been close and she has always been a huge support and influence in my life. She had only just returned home after a lengthy hospital and rehab center stay for an illness. Her time is growing short and I know that I will soon have to say goodbye. But watching her smile and cheer as Kipenzi finally stood up on her own made my heart happy again at seeing her joy and Kipenzi’s milestone! I asked Gram if she ever thought she would see a baby giraffe be born and her response was “not in this lifetime.” Thank you for sharing Katie and Kipenzi with us on their special day and thank you for showing my grandmother that there are still new things to experience and enjoy even in this stage of her life. My grandmother truly is a treasured one in my life and no matter what may come I will always remember her and that experience we had together whenever I think of your Kipenzi! Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of our world’s animals and I hope to visit the Dallas Zoo in person one day.

  11. Diana

    I unfortunately missed the birth of Kipenzi and all the after activity after, but when trying to find a name for my Great Dane puppy I was checking Swahilli names and found this site. I am so happy to be able to name home for the loved ones from the past. This name really has warmed my heart. God bless all you do to preserve nature for my children and grandchildren to love in future years.

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  13. interesting information

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