PHOTOS: 2 giraffes born at Safari Park are ‘healthy and doing well’

SAN DIEGO — Two female giraffes have been born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park over the past couple of weeks, zoo officials announced Thursday.

Tamaza was born two weeks ago in the Southern Africa habitat’s barn to mom Gasira. A little over a week ago, a still unnamed calf was born in the East Africa habitat to mom Acacia.

Animal care staff said both giraffes and their mothers are healthy and doing well. The youngsters are interacting with their herds and exploring their habitats.

“In just a few short weeks, they’re already showing a lot of personality,” said Lance Aubrey, animal care supervisor at the Safari Park. “Tamaza is rather shy and loves to lounge in the shade, while the other calf appears very calm and confident hanging out with her family.”

Giraffes are considered to be vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of habitat loss, civil strife, hunting and ecological changes brought about by human activities like mining and converting land to agricultural use.

San Diego Zoo Global is part of an effort to strengthen conservation efforts in East Africa.

Included in the initiative is a website called Wildwatch Kenya — at wildwatchkenya.org — which allows people around the globe to help researchers by sorting through trail camera photos to help identify and track giraffes and other wildlife throughout northern Kenya. Such photos are normally only seen by conservationists.

Since the website’s launch, 2,600 volunteers have processed more than 60,000 images, saving precious time for researchers, according to San Diego Zoo Global.

“We’re so happy about the awe-inspiring support we’ve seen so far, with so many people joining us to make a difference for giraffes,” said Kirstie Ruppert, senior research coordinator for San Diego Zoo Global.

“The information gathered on the website is extremely important for the work we do with our community partners in Kenya,” Ruppert said. “Many people are surprised to learn about the rapid decline of giraffe populations across Africa — and now, there is a way for anyone to help protect this species, no matter where they are in the world.”

Online volunteer help is crucial because more than 1 million images were taken over the past year. Identifying and counting the photos would take a research team years to complete, she said.