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Roger Williams Park Zoo Welcomes ‘Powerful’ New Giraffe: 1-Year-Old Enzi Joins the Herd

(Updated June 17)

Male, 1-year-old Masai giraffe named Enzi

Providence, RI (June 17, 2024) Roger Williams Park Zoo announces the arrival of Enzi, a one-year-old male giraffe. Enzi, whose name translates to “powerful” in Swahili will join the Zoo’s existing female giraffes, Cora and Providence, becoming the third member of the herd. Enzi comes to Roger Willams from Zoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo, where he was born in 2023.

Enzi’s arrival is a significant milestone, reinforcing the Zoo’s commitment to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) for giraffes. SSPs are collaborative breeding programs aimed at maintaining robust, genetically diverse populations of threatened and endangered species. The current Masai Giraffe SSP population consists of 137 animals (60 males, 77 females) distributed among 35 AZA facilities. By actively participating in SSPs, Roger Williams Park Zoo is playing a crucial role in securing the future of giraffes, a responsibility shared by accredited zoos, like Zoo New England and Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Masai giraffes are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Masai giraffe populations have declined 50 percent in the last 30 years.

The biggest threats to the Masai giraffe population are habitat loss and illegal hunting. Masai giraffes are poached for meat and products such as hide, bones, and tail hairs. As of May 2024, the IUCN estimates that there are 32,200 Masai giraffes; they are starting to slightly rebound due to conservation efforts.

The Masai giraffe is easily recognized by its jagged and irregular spots. It inhabits various regions of eastern Africa and is the largest-bodied giraffe species, making it the tallest land animal on Earth. Bulls, like Enzi, typically outweigh and outgrow females, reaching up to 2900 pounds and a height of up to 18 feet. In the wild, these giraffes can live up to 25 years, with lifespans often extending further in managed habitats. One of its most distinctive features is its long neck, composed of seven vertebrae, which account for about one-third of its body height. Additionally, its prehensile tongue, measuring up to 20 inches, allows it to grasp leaves from tall trees that other animals cannot reach. Enzi, at 11 months, weighs 730 pounds and is about 10 feet tall.

Guests will have the opportunity to observe the complex social interactions between giraffes, witness their fascinating physical adaptations, and learn more about giraffe conservation efforts.

“Our team is committed to providing Enzi with a comfortable and enriching environment as he adjusts to his new home,” said Amy Roberts, chief zoological officer.

Keeper Rachel McClung, who has already begun building a rapport with Enzi, describes him as a sweet and curious individual. McClung elaborated, “Enzi is understandably shy around new people, but he’s already shown signs of warming up. He cautiously accepted a treat from me, which was a positive step. It’s great to see him becoming more independent as he explores his new habitat.”

Roger Williams Park Zoo is Rhode Island’s number one outdoor family and tourist attraction and a leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. As leaders in conservation and animal care – we create engaging experiences that empower guests to join us in conserving wildlife and wild places. Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.

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