Last spring, the Dallas Zoo welcomed not just one but two new babies: Saambili, a baby gorilla, and Witten, a baby giraffe! Little Witten stood a statuesque 5’9” at birth. By four months, the boy was seven feet tall and playful –– he loves bending his neck for scratches from the zookeepers. Meet Witten, the Zoo’s newest (not so) little giraffe.
“Our staff thought it would be a great way to pay tribute to what Jason has meant to the Dallas community over the last 15 years,” she said. “Jason was not just a great player and leader for his teammates, but has also done great things for the people of North Texas –– from programs for victims of domestic violence and hunger to working with the Boys and Girls Club, he and his foundation have made a huge positive impact on our community.”
I think giraffes have such sweet little faces – sometimes they look like they’re smiling and sometimes they look like they’re about to make a snarky, sarcastic comment. Allison agreed.
“Giraffes really do have very expressive faces, don’t they?” she said. “With 11 giraffes, we have just about every personality you can think of in our herd. We have goofballs, drama queens, sassy trouble makers, strong and silent types, superstars, shy guys, and boy-next-door types.”
“Our bull, Tebogo, is the star of the show, and demands all the attention from everyone,” she said. “Five has the sweetest nature, but is very shy and takes a while to warm up to new people. Betty is very playful and can get into trouble every now and then, just like a teenager.”
Apparently Witten looks like mom Chrystal, but his personality is much more like dad Tebogo.
“Witten really loves interacting with his keepers and will do anything for some attention,” Allison said. Even at under a year old, “he is definitely the resident comedian in the herd.”
Witten was born in a special giraffe maternity suite. According to Allison, giraffes are very sociable animals and live in groups called “towers”. But in the wild, expectant mothers will move away from the herd to areas called calving grounds to give birth. Once the calf is sturdy on its feet and nursing well, the female will return to the herd with her newborn in tow.
“At the Dallas Zoo, it’s important to give our females that separate space to deliver and then bond with her newborn,” Allison said. “We want to make sure Chrystal and Witten established a solid nursing routine before we add the distraction of the rest of the herd.”
The births of Saambili and Witten are important because human encroachment, poaching, and dwindling habitat are contributing to the extinction of their species. But you can help giraffes and gorillas in Africa without even leaving DFW!
Recycle — Bring your old electronics to the Dallas Zoo, and they’ll recycle them for you. Many of our electronics contain the mineral coltan, which is mined in the DRC, leading to the destruction of gorillas’ and many other species’ natural habitats. Recycling and extending the life of electronic devices reduces the demand for coltan mining.
Care — Be conscious when you’re buying wood or paper products. Make sure you’re buying rain forest-friendly and sustainable products that are made from recycled materials so you’re not contributing to deforestation.
Finally, you can donate to the Dallas Zoo’s annual fund, and help create a better world for animals.