Although the Santa Barbara Zoo may be closed to visitors right now, last week they welcomed their newest resident: a baby giraffe named Twiga.
The 6-foot giraffe calf was born on Friday to first-time mother Aida and eight-time father Michael, and although he’s just a couple days old, the calf already weighs 125.5 lbs.
A sweet video documenting his first moments shows baby Twiga standing up on his legs for the first time, and sharing some nuzzles with his mother.
“Both baby and mom, Adia, are doing well and bonding behind the scenes,” the zoo announced shortly after Twiga’s birth, alongside an adorable photo of the mother and son standing by each other’s sides.
Besides being cute, Twiga, whose name means “giraffe” in Swahili, is part of the zoo’s effort to protect Masai giraffes, which were declared an endangered species last year.
“Twiga plays a very important role in the Species Survival Plan Program for Masai giraffes. Through this cooperative AZA effort, every single giraffe born here at the Zoo serves a significant purpose: to help keep their species alive,” the zoo wrote on social media.
“Thanks to Michael, these calves, in particular, all carry rare, valuable genes that are vital to keeping the Masai population genetically diverse and healthy. We’re proud to be able to contribute to giraffe conservation in this way!” they added.
Although Twiga just met his father for the first time on Sunday, for now, he’s sticking close to his mother.
The pair have been living in the giraffe barn together since Twiga’s arrival in order to cement their bond, according to the Ventura County Star. They will be moved back in with the rest of the heard at some point in the future, when it’s deemed appropriate by zoo staff.
Twiga is one of five Masai giraffes currently at the zoo. Another one of the animals, whose name is Audrey, is currently pregnant with her fifth baby, who is expected to arrive in June/July 2020.
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