KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Who's ready for a new baby at the Zoo?
It's World Giraffe Day on Friday, and Zoo Knoxville is celebrating with the announcement that a baby giraffe is on its way!
Frances, a three-year-old giraffe at the zoo, is in the final stages of her pregnancy and the zoo is getting ready for the new baby, a news release from the zoo said.
Zoo staff aren't sure exactly when the calf will be born, but said it's not a stretch to expect it in the "necks" few weeks!
It will be the zoo's first giraffe calf in 17 years, the release said.
"We are very excited to share this news with our community,” Phil Colclough, Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Education, said in the release. “We are hopeful that we will welcome a healthy baby, who will be an important ambassador for giraffe conservation. With the serious threats giraffes in Africa are facing, this calf is critical to maintaining a healthy and viable population for the future.”
So, who's the dad?
16-year-old Jumbe! Frances came to the zoo in September 2016 to be paired with him "on the recommendation of the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a collaboration of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) working to save giraffes from extinction. The AZA also works directly with field programs to save wild giraffe," according to the release.
This will be their first baby together.
It's an exciting step for conservationists, since there are less than 100,000 giraffe left in Africa, the zoo said.
"They are threatened by habitat loss, competition with growing human populations and being hunted for bushmeat," the release explained. "With a 40% decrease in their populations, giraffe are now critically endangered."
Watch her baby kick in her belly in the video below:
If you want to join in on the fun, the zoo will be celebrating World Giraffe Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.
"This day was chosen to celebrate the longest necked animals as it is the longest day of the year! " the zoo said.
There will be biofacts, keeper chats and demos, and more fun! Here's the full schedule:
-Painting Demo at platform with Jumbe at 11:30 a.m.
-Chat and resetting of the yard at 1:30 p.m.
-Crafts throughout the day
-Training tools used with the giraffe for viewing
Want to see zoo staff explain just what this means to them and how they're taking care of her? Watch their video below.