MEXICO CITY —
The Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City is celebrating its second baby giraffe of the year, already as tall as an adult human.
The giraffe was unveiled last week after a mandatory quarantine period after the birth of October 23. She will be named by public vote to empathize with the small cow, zoo director Juan Carlos Sanchez Olmos said on Sunday.
The 96-year-old zoo in the central parkland of the capital has a knack for raising captive creatures: this year it has received 170 pups, including six endangered Mexican gray wolves.
"A new birth of a character as unique, as charismatic as a giraffe becomes iconic – a conservation banner for the zoo's prestige," said Sanchez Olmos, as four adult giraffes chewed joyfully on branches and leaves behind him.
Giraffes are considered "vulnerable" because species face significant habitat loss in the 17 sub-Saharan African countries where they live.
Unlike wolves, which will be launched in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park in Baja California, giraffes are expected to spend their lives under observation on a dusty stretch of the Chapultepec Zoo.
A team of professionals – including nutritionists, veterinarians and biologists such as Sanchez Olmos – take care of over 1,000 animals at the zoo, which is under the flight path of roaring jet planes.
While Sanchez Olmos detailed the zoo's mission to not only educate and entertain but also to conserve species, caretaker Alejandro Gonzalez offered long branches of a pomegranate to four hungry giraffes. The taller man in the pack eagerly tore the branches from Gonzalez's hands.
"What I told him?" the janitor said, looking the square giraffe high in the eye. "Calm down, please."
If Gonzalez got what he wanted, the new addition to the giraffe herd would be called Sarita. At least, that's what he calls her.
Long-necked creatures are the favorite accessory in the zoo. The public voted in April to name the first baby giraffe of the year, Jirafifita, which translates into Uppity Little Giraffe – a piece of the president's favorite word for firing critics.
"Fifi" is slang for arrogant or fancy. Populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador often uses the word to describe opposition politicians and others who question their decisions.