Herd welcomes baby giraffe at Safari Park

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SAN DIEGO — A Ugandan giraffe born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park two weeks ago joined his herd in the East Africa habitat.

Congo — named after the river in Africa — followed his mother Chinde to a watering hole Monday, where he was sniffed and licked by other members of the herd, according to animal keeper Peter Jones.

“They did pretty well coming out on exhibit,” he said.

Congo and his mother had been in a separate enclosure since his June 22 birth.

Congo — already more than 6 feet tall and weighing in at about 200 pounds — is the 161st giraffe born at the Safari Park since the facility opened in 1972.

Of the nine giraffe subspecies, the Ugandan giraffe is the only one that is endangered. It is believed that fewer than 700 of them remain in a few isolated populations in Kenya and Uganda.

San Diego Zoo Global is partnering with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help conserve the towering animals in East Africa.

A team of scientists from the zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research is developing a conservation project with Kenyan animal keepers — called pastoralists — to find ways to collaborate and protect giraffes in the savanna.