Kandoro, the first of two giraffes born at Lion Country Safari at the end of 2022.
Photo by Lion Country Safari.
A giraffe being born is rare even at Lion Country Safari, which has one of the United States’ largest giraffe herds.
But the Loxahatchee safari park welcomed two baby giraffes in less than a week, one arriving while visitors were rolling through the park.
Around 10:45 a.m. Dec. 27, several visitors witnessed the birth of a male calf named Kandoro.
“Giraffe mothers have about a 15-month gestation period,” says Haley McCann-Gonzales, Lion Country Safari’s public relations and social media manager. “We’d noticed that Kandoro’s mom was getting close to having her baby, so we’d placed her in the maternity area, which is visible from the road where guests drive through. So as she was giving birth, there was a nice line of cars pulled to the side of the road to watch. It was pretty amazing.”
Giraffes give birth standing up, and their calves usually are able to stand and run within a few hours. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound Kandoro’s name comes from Swahili for sweet potato. His mother is Ayanna, who just turned 19 and gave birth at the park previously; his father is 11-year-old Mosi.
Mosi is also the father of Kianga (“sunshine”), born to first-time mother 9-year-old Ashleigh sometime overnight Dec. 31. The 6-foot-1, 161-pound Kianga brought in both a new day and new year and is also healthy and visible to guests.
Kianga, the second giraffe born at Lion Country Safari on New Year's Eve.
Photo by Lion Country Safari.
“We had a giraffe voting competition on social media to name Kandoro,” McCann-Gonzales says. “It was really fantastic, not only for guests who were here when it was happening, but also the response from the community for Kandoro and Kianga.”
The two births pushed Lion Country Safari’s giraffe population to 18: nine females and nine males.
Listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, giraffes have suffered a 30% decline in population since the 1980s. Lion Country Safari is a supporter of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and a partner of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program.
Open since 1967, Lion Country Safari also had two zebra births in 2022, pushing that herd’s population to 56, the largest in the United States. A rhinoceros named Ruby was born in August.
But while births aren’t uncommon at the park, visible births for spectators, like Kandoro’s, are.
“The timing has to be just perfect,” McCann-Gonzeles says. “We had cars that stuck around for quite a while to see it, and some of our keepers and staff would pop over to see the baby.”
With seven main habitats of 1,000 largely free-roaming wild animals on nearly 600 acres, Lion Country Safari regularly places among the top safari parks in America in USA Today's 10Best Readers’ Choice poll. It was fifth in the summer of 2022.
In addition to giraffes and zebras, visitors can see lions, approximately 150 Asian blackbuck antelopes, water buffalo, chimpanzees, ostriches, wildebeests, alpacas, goats, birds and many other animals.
Lion Country Safari participates in eco-friendly programs and survival plans for breeding and conservation of threatened species and is accredited by the AZA.
Lion Country Safari also features an adventure park with a splash playground and water slides, a petting zoo, pontoon and paddle boats, and a mini-golf putting course.
The park is at 2003 Lion Country Safari Road in Loxahatchee. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, with the last car admitted at 4:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $45 plus fees and taxes; tickets for children ages 3 to 9 cost $34 plus fees and taxes. Children 2 and under are free. For further information, call 561-709-8431, or visit lioncountrysafari.com.