detroitzoo1Community names Detroit Zoo’s giraffe calf and supports giraffe conservation

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Mpenzi, a Swahili word meaning “love”, is the name chosen by the community for the Detroit Zoo’s male reticulated giraffe calf born September 30.

After receiving thousands of name suggestions, the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) invited the public to vote among five finalists while supporting giraffe conservation.  The online vote-by-donation opportunity, which ended Tuesday, determined the winning moniker.  Mpenzi garnered the greatest amount of money, besting Ajabu (“wonderful”), Amani (“peace”), Kijana (“young man”) and Zawadi (“gift”).

“The community is understandably very excited about our newest little giraffe,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer.  “We wanted to take that positive energy and do something that would help giraffes in the wild.  Raising money for giraffe conservation by letting our community choose the calf’s name is a great way to deliver on our mission.”

The community’s gift of $1,141 will be donated to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), whose goal is to ensure a sustainable future where all giraffe populations are protected and secure in the wild.  To underscore its commitment to important conservation and animal welfare efforts that protect the world’s wildlife and habitats, the DZS is adding to this support with a conservation grant to the GCF of $5,000.

“This is a wonderful partnership between our organizations to help conserve giraffes,” said Julian Fennessy, Ph.D., GCF’s executive director.  “The Detroit Zoo’s newest giraffe is truly an ambassador for his cousins in the wild.  Those who donated to name the calf are directly helping to save these magnificent animals.”

Giraffe numbers have plummeted in the wild over the last 15 years, down by more than 40 percent from approximately 140,000 to less than 80,000 individuals.

Mpenzi and parents Kivuli and Jabari can be seen outdoors on warmer days and inside the giraffe building as temperatures drop.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo.  Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue off I-696 in Royal Oak, Mich.  The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day), 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.April through Labor Day, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October.   Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61 and $10 for children 2 to 14, senior citizens 62 and older and active military with ID; children under 2 are admitted free.  The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day) and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October; closed Mondays and Tuesdays.  Admission to the Nature Zoo is free; however, a State of Michigan Recreation Passport is required for all personal vehicles to enter Belle Isle State Park.  For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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