A new baby giraffe has arrived at the Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Named Aella, she is currently a two-month-old Masai giraffe calf. She was born on June 29th and stood more than five feet tall! She has spent the last couple of months bonding with her mother Lily before making her public appearance.
Aella was born to parents Lily and George. They were chosen to breed through the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The goal is to ensure the responsible breeding of threatened and endangered species. It is the first time this pair have had a calf. By breeding this pair it helps long-term survival for the species. It also adds genetic diversity. This will help ensure a future for the giraffe population.
Aella’s name comes from an Amazon warrior. Her personality is already shining through. She is brave and bold. She also has a curious and independent spirit. This has meant that sometimes she has left her mother’s side to go on some adventures. She will still be dependent on her mother for about a year while nursing. Then she will transition to eating the vegetation found on the savannah as she is a herbivore. When she is full grown, she will be consuming 75 pounds of food a day! Her 18-inch tongue will help with this process as it strips leaves off of thorny branches and also trees.
Aella is a Masai giraffe. This breed of giraffe is primarily found in Kenya and Tanzania. Currently, it is estimated that there are 32,000 Masai giraffes left in the world. This number is declining though due to both poaching and habitat loss.
The Disney Conservation Fund works to support conservation projects in Africa to help protect habitats. This includes the habitats for giraffes. Recently some Disney animal care exports went to Uganda where they helped relocate a herd of giraffes. They were moved across the Nile river to get them away from oil-drilling fields. Another team helped giraffes and zebras in Kenya.
For more information about the animals (including the giraffes) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, visit DisneyAnimals.com.