INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Zoo's Facebook fans cast their votes and a 7-week-old giraffe got a name.
This morning, the zoo announced on social media that Mshangao (ma-SHAN-goe) has been chosen as the name for its male reticulated giraffe calf. Facebook fans were invited to choose from three options that were preselected by Zookeepers, and Mshangao received about 39 percent of the votes in the recently concluded poll. The name means “amazement” or “surprise” in Swahili.
Mshangao was born Jan. 9, and is the sixth calf for 18-year-old mother Takasa. Zookeepers say he enjoys romping around the giraffe barn throughout the day and cozying up to his aunt Ajabusana (AJ), the Zoo’s other female giraffe. Mshangao continues to nurse regularly, and while it typically takes four to five months for newborns to begin eating solid foods, the Zoo’s calf has already started chewing on tree trimmings that are part of the adults’ diet. Mshangao has also discovered how to use his long, prehensile tongue to strip the bark from bigger branches — an important skill for giraffes.
The 6-foot-tall, 158-pound youngster started venturing outside to a private yard, enjoying the arm temperatures last weekend. As weather permits, keepers will begin introducing Mshangao to the Plains exhibit where, later this spring, guests will have an opportunity to meet members of the herd up close during public feeds.