PALM DESERT (CBSLA) – A new baby giraffe has been named at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert after a mystery donor gained naming rights by donating $100,000, zoo officials announced Monday.
Living Desert President/CEO Allen Monroe said, “We are thrilled to formally announce our baby giraffe’s name — Vicki Lou. The generous naming gift will continue to support The Living Desert’s conservation initiatives and programs that help save giraffes from extinction.”
Vicki Lou was born March 20, the first day of spring, at 6-foot-1-inch in height and 149.6 pounds and is the eighth calf to be born by 18-year-old giraffe mother, Dadisi.
According to zoo officials, the donation helps to support giraffe-conservation projects, such as Wild Nature Institute’s environmental education programs.
WNI conducts scientific research for at-risk wildlife species, as well as their habitats while advocating for species’ protection and educating the public about conservation, according to the organization’s website.
The Living Desert has announced that the $100,000 donation will go specifically to programs that work directly with teachers and schools to grow the next generation of conservationists in Tanzania through educational materials, storytelling, activities, and workshops.
“By naming our newest giraffe calf, our donors are sharing their commitment to the future of desert wildlife here in the Coachella Valley and around the world,” Director of Development for the zoo Jan Hawkins said.
The birth of the calf follows the December death of an 18-year-old male, Hebasu, who sired the newborn, officials said.
“The Living Desert fondly remembers Hesabu with the birth of this calf,” said Living Desert Director of Animal Care RoxAnna Breitigan. “Hesabu’s legacy will continue to live on through his offspring, helping to build connections with our guests and fostering appreciation for the natural world.”
According to zoo officials, Hebasu was one of the oldest male giraffes being cared for by humans.
The zoo is currently home to nine giraffes, five males, and four females.
Giraffes are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable, with population declines up to 40 percent over the past 30 years, according to zoo officials.
Fewer than 100,000 of the native southern and eastern African species live in the wild.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)