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Happy Birthday Rocket

Categories: Animals, Zoo Babies
Masai Giraffe
Rocket with his ‘smash’ cake

3, 2, 1 Blast Off!

The biggest baby at the Sacramento Zoo is no longer a baby. Rocket, the young male Masai Giraffe born at the Zoo last year, turns one today! In honor of his special day he received a rocket and space themed cardboard ‘smash’ cake created by the Zoo’s volunteer Docents.

Rocket is bursting with personality and often on the go. At one-year-old he weighs in at a whopping 882 pounds and is 9’ 10” (at birth he was 163 pounds and 6’1”). As a male Masai Giraffe he still has lots of growing to do. When full-grown he has the potential of reaching 19’ in height and weighing as much as 4,000 pounds.

According to zookeepers, Rocket takes after his dad Chifu. Rocket’s favorite things to do are eating and stomping all the enrichment within sight. He has even started approaching the Tall Wonders Giraffe Deck to sample leafy greens offered by staff, but only when his surrogate aunt Val is close by his side.

Masai Giraffe
Rocket and his sire, Chifu

The Sacramento Zoo is one of 32 facilities managing more than 120 Masai Giraffes in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) population. While there are currently no plans for changes to the Sacramento Zoo’s giraffe herd, the Zoo will continue to work with AZA’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Coordinators for Masai and Reticulated Giraffes on future planning for the herd.

The Sacramento Zoo partners with the Wild Nature Institute, a field research group that is currently studying Masai Giraffe demographics and the African Savanna ecosystem with photo recognition software. Observation of giraffes in zoos is helping field researchers to recognize physical characteristics and social behaviors that they are seeing in the wild. The study, which includes more than 1,500 Masai Giraffes, will allow researchers to follow the giraffes’ movements and reproduction habits in the wild in order to understand where and why their populations are declining. Visit Wild Nature Institute’s webpage to learn more about their work.