Louisville Zoo's baby giraffe doing better


by News Release from the Louisville Zoo


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 2:10 PM

(Louisville, KY) - The awe-adoring public is now able to see baby Masai giraffe Bakari outside on a regular full-time basis with the rest of his herd-mother Malaika, an 11 -year-old female; Mariah, a 21-year-old female; and Walker, a 14-year-old male.

"He is doing great," said Candy McMahan, Louisville Zoo Assistant Mammal Curator. "We have seen marked improvement since his periosteal stripping procedure. He has wonderful mobility and is now running around the yard at top speed."

Bakari is also growing, too. He now weighs 233 pounds (he was 150 pounds at birth on February 17) and is well over 6 foot tall.

"He is definitely shooting up," McMahan said. "Bakari is a bold and confident giraffe-a stark contrast to his beginning days. We are thrilled with how he is doing."

Bakari is still being bottle fed four times a day, but he is beginning to nibble on solid grain and hay. It is expected he will be weaned off the bottle before the end of the year and hopefully able to participate in the Zoo's public giraffe feed station sometime next year.

Bakari's current preferred activity is to lick.

"He licks everything," McMahan chuckled, "rocks, signs, locks, hinges staff! He is almost like a little human baby-constantly exploring his surroundings."

Besides seeing Bakari outside, visitors can also get a daily up-close view of Bakari when he comes inside the front stall of the Giraffe House for his noon bottle feeding.

*Note: There may be times Bakari is not on exhibit due to weather or other circumstances.


Masai giraffe Bakari was born at the Louisville Zoo on February 17.

He had trouble standing on his own for long periods. Since he couldn't stand to nurse, the Zoo's veterinary team conducted a plasma transfer where horse immunoglobulins (or antibodies) were transfused into the giraffe through an intravenous line. Two plasma transfers were necessary to establish a protective immune system. He was also given life-saving fluids through the intravenous line to keep him hydrated while staff worked on getting him accustomed to bottle-feeding.

After Bakari was diagnosed with angular limb deformity, equine expert Dr. Scott Bennett with Equine Services in Simpsonville, Ky. performed periosteal stripping, a brief surgical procedure that speeds bone growth on the short side of the leg.