The San Diego Zoo’s newest and smallest giraffe is growing up—and he’s growing up fast! Obi, a 2-month-old giraffe, delighted animal care staff when he was born to mother, Nicky; and father, Silver; right in front of excited Zoo visitors. What made Obi’s birth even more interesting was that he stood at only 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed only 117 pounds. In a world where most giraffes are born well over 6 feet tall, Obi was decidedly “pocket-sized,” and he entered the record books as the smallest giraffe calf born at the Zoo in the last 15 years.
Today, Obi, whose name means “heart” in Nigeria, weighs in at over 270 pounds and is now almost 7 feet tall, proving that he’s growing at a normal rate—for a giraffe. Animal care staff said they are happy with Obi’s growth spurt. They described him as a great giraffe and said they love working with him.
“We were really excited when he was born,” said Katie Tomlinson, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “Of course, they’re always cute, but him being smaller just makes him extra cute. And we just enjoyed watching him grow up—watching his personality come out. He has a great personality—really sweet, really curious—so, it’s been a lot of fun.”
Giraffes, sometimes called the watchtowers of the savanna, are slowly disappearing. In many African countries, giraffe populations are decreasing because of poaching, habitat loss and overgrazing of resources by livestock. In the past 15 years, overall numbers have declined so much that two giraffe subspecies—the West African or Nigerian giraffe and the Rothschild’s giraffe—are now endangered.
San Diego Zoo Global has partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, as well as other conservation organizations, to help conserve giraffes in East Africa. This year, a team of scientists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has been developing a conservation project with Kenyan pastoralists, to find ways to collaborate and protect giraffes in the savanna, including creating a fenced sanctuary for the giraffes.
San Diego Zoo Global is also working closely with local communities to employ anti-poaching rangers to save giraffes and keep them out of harm’s way. Our team of rangers and conservation ambassadors are using high-tech tools like GPS collars, drones, and specialized tactics to track giraffes, combat illegal poaching, and nurse innocent orphans back to health. 11 giraffes are killed by poachers every day. At this rate, entire populations could be gone by 2020. Help our team in Kenya save giraffes by giving HERE.