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Baby giraffe makes debut at Cameron Park Zoo

The zoo said if all goes will with the calf's debut, future outings will be determined by the weather and how the baby and his mom feel.

WACO, Texas — One of the Cameron Park Zoo's youngest members is set to make his public debut in the outdoor exhibit Feb. 3, under the watchful eye of animal care staff.

The baby Masai giraffe and his mother, Penelope, will appear together for their first outing with staff making sure the two feel comfortable and safe in the new environment, the zoo said. If the first outing goes well by care taker standards, future outdoor ventures will be determined by the weather and comfort levels of Penelope and her son. 

The Cameron Park Zoo welcomed the baby boy on Jan. 22 when Penelope gave birth to her first calf. He weight 135 pounds and was 6 feet tall. The calf hasn't been named yet, but the zoo launched a naming contest to determine what the newborn's name will be. The public can help choose his name from selections offered by the zoo, which include the names Zeke, Prince and Duke. Those interested in voting can check out the zoo's website. 

Penelope's birth is the zoo's first giraffe born there in 20 years and the first Masai birth. 

The Masai giraffe is the largest subspecies of giraffe and can be found in Central and Southern Kenya and in Tanzania. They have distinctive, irregular, jagged, star-like blotches that extend to the hooves.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the conservation status of wild animals and plants, lists Masai giraffes, as endangered, primarily due to poaching and habitat fragmentation.

Cameron Park Zoo announced Thursday that their new baby giraffe now has a name. The public voted and selected “Zeke” which means “Strength of God”.

His dad, Dane, was born on April 18, 2013, and came from Santa Barbara. Zeke is the first giraffe born in twenty years at Cameron Park Zoo and is the first Masai birth. 

Each participant in the naming contest paid $5 per vote to help choose a name and to help raise money for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The final amount raised was $1,754.

 Visitors can see Zeke on exhibit every day, weather dependent, with his mother, dad, and Jenny the zoo’s senior reticulated giraffe.

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