Meet Kiden, a New Masai Giraffe: Kiden moves into the Oregon Zoo

Meet Kiden, a New Masai Giraffe: Kiden moves into the Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo’s animal population gained 11 extra feet this spring, all courtesy of Kiden, a female Masai giraffe from South Carolina’s Greenville Zoo.

The towering 2-year-old arrived in Portland in late April and spent a few weeks acclimating before meeting the zoo’s other giraffes, Buttercup and Desi, along with the Spekes gazelle and southern ground hornbills that share their mixed-species habitat.

“Giraffes are herd animals, so it’s wonderful to welcome a new member of the family,” said Becca Van Beek, who oversees the zoo’s Africa area. “It’s been a lot of fun to see her interacting with the other animals.”

Masai giraffes — the largest giraffe subspecies and the tallest mammals on earth — can grow to around 18 feet tall. Other impressive stats include: tongues up to 21 inches long, and running speeds of up to 35 mph. The subspecies is endangered, with fewer than 33,000 believed to remain in eastern Africa.

“Every Masai giraffe we care for is critical to keeping this subspecies alive,” said Oregon Zoo deputy director Sheri Horizsny, who serves as the national SSP coordinator for giraffes. “Our hope is that one day Kiden and Buttercup will start a family of their own.”

Giraffes are also among the animals supported through Share the Care, the Oregon Zoo Foundation’s symbolic adoption program, which helps fund the zoo’s efforts to save species facing extinction.

Giraffe fans will have to wait a bit to see Kiden in person while the zoo is closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (at press time, a reopening date was not known).

The Oregon Zoo Foundation is leading efforts to fund critical operating needs of the zoo during its closure. To contribute, go to oregonzoo.org/donate.

To see video of Kiden exploring her new home, go to bit.ly/KidenMovesIn.