David Templeman

David Templeman

Minister for the Environment; Climate Change; Peel

    Perth Zoo's newest Rothschild's Giraffe calf named 'Mapenzi'

    20/02/2008 10:06 AM

    It’s official, Perth Zoo’s eight-week-old giraffe has a name.

    The female calf, the first giraffe born at the zoo for seven years, has been named Mapenzi which is Swahili for ‘beloved’.

    Environment Minister David Templeman said Mapenzi was chosen from more than 2,350 entries in a naming competition launched by Perth Zoo and The West Australian newspaper shortly after the birth of the calf on Christmas Eve.

    Competition winner and Perth Zoo regular Cheryl John of North Lake, chose Mapenzi (pronounced Mah-pen-zee) after searching the internet for inspiration and guidance on an appropriate name.

    To celebrate the win, Cheryl and her two children, aged four and seven, have been treated to a special behind the scenes meeting with Mapenzi and the zoo’s other Rothschild’s Giraffes including Mapenzi’s mother Misha and her father Armani.

    “I wanted to find a name that was meaningful,” an excited Ms John said.

    “I knew that Misha was a very good mother and I remembered her kissing the top of the head of one of her calves some years ago.

    “The calf means a lot for the breeding program and for Misha.”

    Mr Templeman said Perth Zoo was part of an Australasian breeding program for giraffe.

    “Since 1995, the zoo has successfully bred six Rothschild’s Giraffe, which is one of the most threatened giraffe subspecies, with only a few hundred found in Kenya and Uganda,” he said.

    “The zoo was keen to involve the community in naming Mapenzi given the strong community interest in the breeding program.”

    The Minister said the birth of Mapenzi marked the recommencement of the Zoo’s giraffe breeding program.

    “This is the fifth calf for Misha who is an excellent mother and is the first calf sired by the zoo’s new breeding male, four-year-old Armani, who arrived in Perth from Melbourne in 2005,” he said.

    Perth Zoo keepers are very pleased with the calf’s progress and say she is suckling well. The other female giraffe, Marama and Shahni (another of Misha’s offspring), as well as father Armani have also been watching over the youngest member of their group.

    All five giraffe are on display in their exhibit in the African Savannah.

    Mr Templeman said Mapenzi’s birth provided yet another reason for people to visit Perth Zoo.

    Minister’s office - 9220 5050

    Background Information:
    • The Rothschild’s Giraffe is native to Uganda and Kenya and is one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies. It is most easily identified by the five horn-like nubs on its head.
    • It is estimated that there are 110,000 giraffe in Africa. Their populations have become fragmented through habitat destruction and human activities such as poaching. In some cases, giraffes have become extinct from areas of their former range.
    • There are currently four female and one male giraffe at Perth Zoo. The females are Misha, Shani (daughter of Misha), Marama and Mapenzi. The male is Armani.
    • Misha is the mother of five of the six calves born at Perth Zoo. She was captured in the famous ‘The Kiss’ photograph welcoming the first of those offspring, Makulu, into the world.
    • All the male calves born at Perth Zoo have been transferred to other zoos in Australia and New Zealand to become sires in their own right.
    • The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. Its neck has the same seven vertebrae as most other mammals but they are greatly elongated. The giraffe’s long neck and legs are one of the most dramatic examples of adaptation, giving these animals access to a food supply that is out of reach of most other herbivores.
    • Giraffe also have specialised blood vessels which enable them to lower and raise their head without a sudden drop in blood pressure.
    • The normal giraffe life span is up to 28 years in zoos (less in the wild).
    • The gestation period is 400 to 468 days. A giraffe’s height at birth is around 165 to 190cm. They weigh about 47 to 70 kg at birth.
    • Mapenzi weighed about 55 kg and was 1.75 metres tall at birth.