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Catch up with the latest news at LRZ with articles, press releases, and other fun updates

written and created by Zoo Staff.

Name Announcement for Giraffe Calf

After a week of voting, the results are in!  The name for the male giraffe calf born on January 26 at Lee Richardson Zoo is Miguu (pronounced me-goo).  Miguu is Swahili for legs.  Zoo staff would like to thank the over 2,500 people who voted in person, online, or by phone or email.


Names that were up for selection had been proposed by the zoo staff who care for the giraffes.  The names were selected for their relevance to the calf.  Miguu was offered as an option since giraffes are known for their long, strong legs, which they use for locomotion and protection, and calves must learn to use their legs very quickly after being born. 


In the wild, giraffe populations have decreased by 40% over the last thirty years due to poaching and habitat destruction.  Together Lee Richardson Zoo and other AZA members and their partners are working to help save giraffes through education, scientific research, fieldwork, public awareness, and action.


You can visit Mom, Dad, and Miguu during regular zoo hours.  They will be in their indoor quarters or outdoors based on the outside temperature. Public viewing inside the giraffe barn may be closed periodically to allow mom and calf privacy.

Images: Giraffe calf at LRZ stands tall inside his indoor quarters.


Reticulated Giraffe Born at Lee Richardson Zoo

Lee Richardson Zoo received a late Christmas present on December 26th and is happy to announce the arrival of a reticulated giraffe calf.  Born at 11:15 a.m., this is the third calf for mom, Cleo, age 9, and dad, Juani, age 13.  Zoo staff performed a well-baby check on the 27th after giving mom and baby some time to bond.  Mom and baby are doing fine. 


Zoo staff had been monitoring Cleo closely for the last week.  Keepers found Cleo in the early stages of giving birth during a morning check.  The male calf weighed 185 pounds and was nursing within the next few hours after birth.


The birth is the result of a breeding recommendation from the Giraffe Species Survival Plan Program which coordinates population management for the species within member institutions of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and works to enhance conservation of the species in the wild.  In the wild, giraffe populations have decreased by 40% over the last thirty years due to poaching and habitat destruction.  Together AZA members and their partners are working to help save giraffes through education, scientific research, field work, public awareness and action.


The calf was born in the indoor quarters.  Mom and calf will remain inside for a few days for some bonding time and then outside access will be based on outdoor temperatures.  Public viewing inside the giraffe barn may be limited to allow mom and calf privacy.  Juani will remain separated from the mother and baby until the newborn is a bit older and steadier on its feet.  Public will have a chance to help select the calf’s name next week. 

Images: (L) A newborn giraffe calf rests while its mother leans her head near (R) A newborn giraffe calf stands next to its mother. 

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Avian Flu, the Zoo, and You

If you’ve visited the zoo in the past month or so, you may have noticed some changes in the way we care for our birds. The flamingoes are staying inside even on nice days, the aviary flight is closed to visitors, and there’s a plastic bin at the swan pond containing a pair of boots. All of these measures are related to precautions due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1. HPAI H5N1, or as I’ll refer to it here for simplicity, “Bird Flu,” is a very serious and often deadly respiratory virus that has been affecting wild birds and domestic poultry across North America for the past year. Unfortunately, that ‘Highly Pathogenic’ part of its name means that it is incredibly contagious, and since there have now been reports of the virus in Finney County, Lee Richardson Zoo is taking every precaution to protect our bird collection.

            Because Bird Flu affects different species in different ways, the precautions we are using are highly individualized. Waterfowl are known to be major carriers of the virus, so keepers change into designated boots when working around our swans and ducks to prevent any possible spread. Bird Flu can be especially deadly for flamingos, so our flock is quarantining indoors. Kanati the Bald Eagle (who currently lives behind the scenes) has a new roof over his habitat so that no wild birds can share the disease with him through their droppings. All of our bird areas have been equipped with antiviral footbaths to prevent Bird Flu from riding in on a keeper’s boots.

            An added layer of concern comes from the fact that Bird Flu can also spread to other kinds of animals. In 2022 in the US, there were 98 reported cases of Bird Flu in mammals. So far, this outbreak has affected a dozen different species of mammals, including foxes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, bobcats, seals, and others. The virus can also rarely spread to humans, but because there has only been one human case in the US in the past year, the CDC has stated that for now, this situation remains primarily an animal health issue and not a human one.

            If you’re anything like me, you may be reading this and wondering if there’s anything you can do to help the situation, and there is. As we all know too well by now, the best way to help a viral outbreak is to stop the spread. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to get birds of a feather to stop flocking together, so we have to step in a little bit. By taking down our bird feeders, we can reduce the number of places where lots of birds intermingle. If you do hang a feeder, make sure you wash it with soap and water regularly. I also recommend soaking the feeder in a vinegar solution to make sure it’s totally microbe-free.

            For those of us with pet birds or backyard chickens, Bird Flu can pose a very personal threat. Make sure you’re keeping your birdcages and coops clean, and if you work with chickens especially, make sure you wash your hands before and after. It may also be worth having a designated pair of shoes for whenever you’re working with the chickens, just to be safe.

            Of course, the easiest way to help wild birds right now is to educate yourself on Bird Flu. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the CDC and USDA websites, both of which have pages dedicated to HPAI. Together, we can make a safer place for birds


Image: a trumpeter swan floats on the zoo's pond.

- Houston Glover, Conservation Awareness Coordinator

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