The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of a new giraffe, a 3 ½ -year-old male named Kendi. Kendi arrived at MCZ at the end of October from the Dallas Zoo, and he’s now settled in with his new herd and becoming familiar with the habitat.
As with all Milwaukee County Zoo incoming animals, Kendi was quarantined for 30 days to make sure he was healthy and ready to join the Zoo’s existing animal population.
Standing a towering 13 ½ feet, Kendi’s former zookeepers in Dallas say he’s still the same friendly, sweet giraffe he was as a calf and loves interaction and training with the animal care team. His favorite treats are WASA crackers, bananas, apples, lettuce, and tree browse.
Milwaukee County Zoo’s animal care team has started a bit of initial training with Kendi and comment that his demeanor has been calm, attentive, and interested. Keepers describe Kendi as easygoing in his interactions with them, but he’s already very alert and watchful with the female giraffes in the herd. He’s showing healthy male giraffe behaviors, like monitoring the females who are in estrus (the period when most female mammals are capable of conceiving), following them closely, and guarding them from the others. Keepers comment Kendi is “definitely keeping them on their toes!” They’re curious to see how he reacts next spring when he participates in giraffe feedings with visitors.
Kendi’s transfer is due to a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Giraffe SSP®. The SSP® ensures diverse genetics for certain species — conserving endangered animals for the future.
Kendi joins the Zoo’s current herd of giraffes: Ziggy, Marlee, Maya, and Asante. Sometime in 2024, resident male giraffe, Asante, will transfer to another AZA-accredited facility based on the Giraffe SSP® recommendations. Because of dominance issues between the two males, it’s necessary for Asante to join another herd, possibly on a breeding recommendation.
In the wild, giraffes are found throughout the savannas of Africa. Their numbers are in rapid decline in what has been termed: “the silent extinction.” Reflecting this trend, the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) global Red List of threatened species recently updated the giraffe’s status from “Least Concern” to “Vulnerable.”