Zindzhi made her debut on the first weekend of the zoo’s Gift of Lights holiday event.
Zindzhi is a 6-year-old giraffe. Her name comes from the Zulu word for warrior. She joined the zoo Nov. 2 on a recommendation from the Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan.
The zoo has an existing herd of four male giraffes. Zindzhi will be paired with the zoo’s youngest male, Kellan, in the hopes of producing a calf.
“All along, we’ve been planning to have a giraffe breeding program here at the zoo, and it’s really exciting that we’re ahead of schedule,” said Josh Sisk, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo, in a press release. “We’re so lucky to have this opportunity to play an even bigger role in the conservation of this rare and magnificent species.”
It may be some time before zoo visitors see a giraffe calf. Gestation for giraffes is 14 to 15 months. Calves are about 6 feet tall at birth. They weigh up to 150 pounds. They can walk, feed and run within hours of birth.
The zoo’s giraffes are kept inside during the winter, but are available for feeding when they’re willing to participate.
South Bend Orthopaedics sponsored Zindzhi’s transport and care.
“We are excited about this special opportunity to support the transportation of this wonderful addition to the Zoo,” said Dr. A.J. Mencias. “We join the community in welcoming Zindzhi to the zoo and cannot wait to be part of the continuing celebration of the animal kingdom right here in Michiana.”
There are fewer than 90,000 giraffes in the wild. They are considered vulnerable to extinction.
Masai giraffes, like Zindzhi, are the largest type of giraffe. There are about 35,000 Masai giraffes in the wild. Native to Kenya and Tanzania, they are endangered.
The zoo also announced three new endangered African painted dog pups. They were born at the zoon Sept. 28.
The Potawatomi Zoo is in South Bend. It is is home to over 400 animals. The zoo works to preserve and protect the diversity of species on Earth.