Posts Tagged With: katie

Mourning our beloved Kipenzi

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(UPDATED JULY 31)

We’re overwhelmed by the love you’ve shown today for our little Kipenzi, and to our grieving staff. Because you’ve asked a few specific questions, we wanted to answer them here for you.

1. Are you reviewing what happened? Yes. We are conducting a very thorough review of the incident down to the smallest detail, to examine every aspect and ensure that every opinion is heard. While some members of the media have used the word “investigation,” we believe this implies that we have to figure out what happened, or assign blame, and this is not the case. We were fully staffed and they witnessed every moment except the exact second she hit the wall, so we know what happened; no policies or procedures appear to be violated. However, what we WILL do now, with relentless focus, is examine the accident from every angle to look for ways to keep this from happening again. No one wants to prevent this more than our staff.
2. Will you change the habitat? At this time, we have no plans to do so. The habitat is a world-class design that sets a standard that zoos around the world have followed. Kip was in the smaller area of the Giants of the Savanna because it was safer for her than the big space, where she could get up more speed and would have had to avoid more obstacles, including other animals. This was a tragic, heartbreaking accident, nothing more.
3. Then how was she injured? Calves of all species, from horses to cows to giraffes and gerenuks, love to run around wildly. (Like toddlers.) We can’t put bubble-wrap around them, as much as we’d like to. Yesterday when the Zoo closed, the adult giraffes shifted toward the barn, but Kip and big brother Kopano wanted to play more. They chased each other through the habitat and ran in big loops around it. They got to the end of the habitat and Kopano turned the right way, but Kip instead made a sharp turn into the wall. She was a calf; she played like a calf. This type of thing can happen with any hoofstock, cows and horses included – and in the wild, where giraffes will stumble into depressions, fall, and calves run into trees or even another giraffe.
4. How could that hurt her so badly? A necropsy by our veterinary team this morning confirmed that Kip died from a broken neck – again, unfortunately, not an uncommon injury in giraffes, simply because of the long, slender way their necks are built.
5. Should she have been allowed to run, and was the habitat too small? We were very cautious about allowing Kip (and Kopano and Jamie before her) to grow into the larger yards slowly. Yesterday was no different than any other day since May 1, when Kipenzi first went out. She had been exploring and running in that yard for three months, and that’s essential to her growth and development. We couldn’t pen her up in a small area, despite the risk that she might fall or run into something. However, she was in the feeding yard because it was overall a safer place for her – the large Savanna would have been much riskier. So she was in her “baby gate” kind of place when this unfortunate, freak accident occurred.
6. How are the keepers? Our whole staff, especially our giraffe team, is devastated. We all deeply loved Kipenzi, as you did, and are grieving. However, our team is dedicated, devoted and strong, and we have other animals to care for through our tears. Everyone came to work Wednesday, and even some who were off came in to be here with their colleagues. We brought in counselors to help staffers, too. We have received many condolence gifts, from food to flowers and beautiful artwork, and we appreciate that more than you know.
7. How is Katie, Kip’s mom? Katie is eating normally and is finding comfort from her best giraffe friends, Auggie and Jade. She remains in the barn with a private yard while keepers monitor her closely to be sure she continues to do well. She’ll go back into the large habitat when she indicates that she’s ready.
8. Is the rest of the herd mourning? They are acting normally. Giraffes, while social animals, aren’t as emotionally connected with each other as some other animals, like elephants, primates and whales. In the wild, they must constantly be on alert for predators, so they are hard-wired to move on quickly after the loss of a calf.
9. What happened at the Zoo the next day? Operations were completely normal, and the giraffe herd was out in both areas of the habitat. Nothing was different because this doesn’t seem to be a mistake or an error on anyone’s part. It was a terrible accident, and a not-uncommon one in hoofstock.
10. Will there be a memorial at the Zoo for Kipenzi? We are definitely considering how to best honor her memory. Because she was such a remarkable ambassador for her species and for conservation – helping to raise more than $35,000 for our partner in Africa, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation – we chose to first suggest donations to that group. (Donate here: www.giraffeconservation.org) We need time to figure out what other memorial we wish to set up, but we will keep you posted here.
11. Will you have more giraffe calves? We are part of the national Species Survival Plan for giraffes, and will continue to breed when recommended.
12. What is Kip’s legacy? Kipenzi was undoubtedly the most recognized giraffe in the world, and her birth live on Animal Planet captivated millions. From the anticipation of her arrival to her first moments standing and her introduction into the Savanna habitat, Kip continued to melt hearts and bring attention to her species, whose population in the wild has been reduced significantly in recent years. The supportive emails, tweets and Facebook posts we’ve received and responded to throughout Kip’s life could fill volumes – she truly was a household name, and people connected with her deeply.

When you voted for her name online, you were given an opportunity to donate to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Those donations raised $35,000 to help protect her “cousins” in Africa. Following her passing, Kip continues to bring awareness to her endangered species, and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation has been flooded with more donations in her honor to help the plight of giraffes. Kip’s gave the public a front-row seat into the delivery and care of giraffes, all while inspiring conversations about what we all can do to save them in the wild. We’ve heard from parents whose children were enthralled with seeing a live animal birth right from their living room, classrooms who started research projects on giraffes in the wild, and guests who flew across the country to see the giraffe who was an inspiration for all ages – the stories are incredible. We will always cherish the light Kip was to so many, and her role as an ambassador for conservation will not be forgotten.

13. Will you continue to update us? Yes, of course. We appreciate your support so much. And we operate from a position of transparency, because we’re proud of the work we do and how we provide for animals in our care. We will respond as much as we can, but please understand that given the enormous outpouring of love, it is difficult to respond individually. But know that we are reading every single comment, and that they are helping us get through this difficult time.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Giraffe, Media, Social Media, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 63 Comments

Dallas Zoo devastated by loss of wildly popular giraffe calf

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Kipenzi takes a break in the giraffe feeding yard July 10, 2015.

Kipenzi in the giraffe feeding yard July 10, 2015.

Accident claims Kipenzi, whose live birth in April mesmerized the world

The Dallas Zoo is devastated to announce the death this evening of Kipenzi, the giraffe calf whose birth on Animal Planet Live captured the hearts of people worldwide.

“This is a huge loss for our giraffe herd, our staff and our guests,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo. “To be honest, it hurts terribly. We’re crushed, and everyone here is mourning. Please keep our staff in your thoughts.”

Keepers were routinely shifting the giraffe herd into their night barn just after 5:30 p.m. when the gangly calf began to scamper about the feeding yard, as she has done since her public debut on May 1. She made a sharp turn and ran into the perimeter edge of the habitat. Preliminary results indicate three broken vertebrae in her neck, and that she died immediately.

“Running is a typical behavior for giraffes of all ages, especially young ones like Kipenzi,” said Harrison Edell, the zoo’s senior director of living collections. “We’ve been very cautious with where we’ve allowed Kipenzi to roam, as we were with her siblings Kopano and Jamie when they were small. It’s heartbreaking that this happened where it did despite our precautions.”

Her mother, Katie, visited Kipenzi before veterinarians and keepers removed her.

On May 1, Kipenzi made her first official public debut in the zoo’s giraffe feed yard with Katie and “Uncle” Auggie. Since then, Kipenzi had explored the habitat regularly. She was the third giraffe calf raised in the Giants of the Savanna habitat since its opening in 2010.

Kipenzi’s birth caught the attention of animal-lovers worldwide after the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet launched the joint project GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE this spring on the Animal Planet L!VE streaming video site. Millions of people fell in love with Kipenzi after she made her debut April 10 in front 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 APL.tv.

Given the groundswell of love for Kipenzi since her birth, the Dallas Zoo encourages guests to post photos of Kipenzi or leave messages of support for staff on its Facebook and Instagram pages. For those interested in donating in Kipenzi’s memory, the Dallas Zoo recommends The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, our partner at the forefront of protecting giraffes in Africa. Click here to make a donation.

Categories: Africa, Giraffe | Tags: , , , | 34 Comments

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

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_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 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_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 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:

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Giraffe, Media, Social Media, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Dallas Zoo opens voting for viral star giraffe calf’s name

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Katy's giraffe baby The millions of people worldwide who’ve fallen in love with our new viral star giraffe calf at the Dallas Zoo can now vote on the new baby’s name: Adia, Kanzi, or Kipenzi.

Voting is free, but fans also have the chance to help rescue and support threatened wildlife in Africa, including giraffes. A generous friend of the Dallas Zoo has agreed to match any donations made in the baby’s honor, up to $25,000. All donations will go to conservation efforts around the world.

CLICK HERE to vote now. Voting closes at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, and the name will be announced the next day. Katie and her calf continue to be streamed live online at Animal Planet L!VE at apl.tv.

“We’ve heard from many people around the world that say Katie and her baby are now a part of their family after witnessing this remarkable live birth on Animal Planet,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s president and CEO. “We want those people to feel included in the calf’s name. We can’t wait to see which one is chosen.”

The zoo also has been overwhelmed with heartfelt requests to name the calf after loved ones: children lost to cancer, missing family members, relatives with autism who were touched deeply by the live birth, first responders who gave their lives in service of others, former zoo staffers, and more. However, given the number of requests, it simply wasn’t possible to recognize just one special person.

Instead, Katie’s keepers chose the three Swahili names, all with meanings that honor the spirit of those requests:

–          Adia – “a gift” (pronounced uh-DEE-uh)

–          Kanzi – “a treasure” (KAHN-zee)

–          Kipenzi – “loved one” (kih-PEHN-zee)

Baby Giraffe goes outside for first time “We have been profoundly touched by your stories, and we feel your grief and your pride,” Hudson said. “We have read every post, tweet and email, often with tears in our eyes. We hope those who have reached out will find comfort in knowing that the Dallas Zoo will always think of their loved ones as we care for this calf in the coming years.”

The Dallas Zoo has a recent policy of naming animals after their native home — for example, 5-month-old giraffe Kopano’s name means “united” — to further conservation messages about the plight of animals in the wild.

Mom Katie delivered the calf, weighing 139 pounds and standing 5 feet, 10 inches tall, live on Animal Planet television and Animal Planet L!VE streaming. Viewers cheered Katie on as she pushed for nearly an hour to deliver the calf, and over the next hours as the wobbly little one tried to stand, took her first steps and began nursing.

Every dime raised from donations linked to the vote will go to conservation efforts. Although the Dallas Zoo is a non-profit zoological park itself, we will use 100% of the donations for conservation efforts around the globe. The zoo partners with many organizations to save animals from extinction, including the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Tarangire Elephant Project, and more.

Categories: Africa, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , | 35 Comments

Q&A: Katie’s calf is here! Now what?

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Katie and baby 1 4x6 logoWe’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and interest in our viral star Katie and her sweet baby girl. It’s hard to put it into words how incredible this entire “Giraffe Birth Live” experience has been for the Dallas Zoo. We’re honored to have partnered with Animal Planet to show you the miracle of life as it unfolded live on your television screens.

While we’re trying to respond to as many of you as possible on social media, we may miss a few of your questions and comments. Here are the answers to the questions we’re receiving most.

Q. This was amazing. Why did you do this? We believe the public benefits from seeing what goes on behind the scenes at a leading, accredited U.S. zoo. We’re extremely proud of our animal and veterinary teams, and the excellent, dedicated care they provide. Showing this birth also allowed us to teach about giraffes, including how threatened they are in Africa. We hope that will convince more people to get involved in conservation efforts with the groups with which we partner to help preserve giraffes in the wild.

Q: How can I help save wild giraffes? Please make a donation to our giraffe conservation partner that’s helping save giraffes in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is at the forefront of protecting giraffe (sub)species in Africa. Click HERE to make a donation. Please follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Q: Now that Katie’s baby is here, when can we see her in person? Spring is here, which means rain in Texas! In a perfect world, the baby would go out within a week of birth to the giraffe feeding yard in the Giants of the Savanna habitat. However, the rainy weather is stalling that plan. Keepers have to wait until the habitat is no longer muddy for the baby to safely roam the area (she’s quite the runner already!).

As soon as the rain subsides and the ground is dry, the baby will go out for you to meet. When that time comes, the baby will be out on select days during nice weather. We’ll share those times with you on Facebook, Twitter and on the ZooHoo! blog, but it’s always a safe bet to call before you visit, so you’re not disappointed.

Q: For those who don’t live in Texas, how can we see the baby’s first day in the habitat? Our video/photography team will capture the baby’s first day out as she meets the public. We will definitely share this on social media!

Katie and baby 3 4x6 logoQ: It looks like Katie isn’t letting her baby to nurse enough. What’s happening? This is normal giraffe behavior. The average calf nurse is just 66 seconds, and can often be less than 10 seconds! Giraffes are built to survive in the wild, which means the calves have to get a quick mouthful of milk and move on because of predators. These guys are naturally on constant alert. Compared to cow’s milk, giraffe’s milk has more fat, protein and less lactose. Each squirt of giraffe milk is extremely nutritious for the calf. The calf’s feedings look great to keepers, who are monitoring all activity.

Q: When can Katie get some fresh air? Katie and her calf were scheduled to go outside into the outdoor area that’s not in public view today (Monday), but the rain changed that. (We can’t take a risk of the baby falling in the mud!) You may see Katie pacing in the maternity stall because she wants to go outside, but right now she has to do what’s best for baby. As soon as our keepers feel the outdoor space is safe, they’ll let the two roam in that area.

Q: How is the baby going to be named? Our giraffe keepers are selecting three names. We have a recent policy of naming our animals after their native country — for example, calf Kopano’s name means “united” in Botswana — to further conservation messaging and to show respect for their wild brethren. We will open up the name selection to a public vote later this week on our website.

Q: When will the Animal Planet cameras be taken down? We don’t have a date yet, but it will in all likelihood be this week. Once Katie and the calf head outside more often, there will be less to see!

Q: When will the other giraffes meet the baby? Giraffe Auggie will be the first introduced; he’ll also be the only giraffe to go out into the feeding yard with her and Katie. Auggie is our 14-year-old gentle giant; he’s the most calm, patient and mature giraffe in the herd. The calf will slowly meet the other members of the herd as she grows. Jade, Katie’s good pal, will be the first female to meet the calf, and 4-year-old sister Jamie will probably be the last female to meet the calf, to avoid “jealous big sister syndrome.”

Q: Does father Tebogo recognize his offspring? Tebogo is interested in them, but there’s no way of telling if he knows they’re his children. He enjoys sniffing and licking them through the mesh, though.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Nutrition, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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