Tsavo Arrives at Oakland Zoo to Join Family Herd of Resident Giraffes

Oakland Zoo
April 22, 2021
Tsavo- giraffe male - from Fresno Chaffee Zoo enjoying a snack with Kijiji- female giraffe at Oakland Zoo's African Savanna; Photo Credit Oakland Zoo;Steve Goodall

Oakland, CA – April 22, 2021… Oakland, CA – Officials at Oakland Zoo andFresno Chaffee Zoo have announced that Tsavo, a soon to be 4-year-old male reticulated giraffe, has arrived in his new home. He is now out on habitat socializing with his new herd mates in Oakland Zoo's African Savanna. In recent years, Oakland Zoo's animal care team had been seeking to find compatible addition(s) to the herd after suffering the loss of four geriatric giraffes over recent years. The need to cultivate a new herd, in size comparable to those in the wild, is critical to the social structure and well-being of giraffe. They are highly social animals that in the wild maintain relationships with many individuals. Tsavo’s presence will provide the giraffe herd at Oakland Zoo with a more robust and needed social structure, rounding the herd to a healthy six in number.

"We are excited for our newest giraffe additions to join our giraffe herd. The diversity of ages and mixture of males and females in this herd will be similar to the social dynamics that giraffe experience in the wild. This addition reinforces the importance of animal welfare at the Zoo," says Colleen Kinzley, VicePresident of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research at Oakland Zoo. 

Tsavo's arrival follows months of planning between Fresno Zoo and Oakland Zoo. Before his departure, the animal care team at Fresno Chaffee Zoo used positive reinforcement training to help persuade him to complete new behaviors voluntarily which were needed for his transport, such as walking through specific areas of the giraffe night house.

Tsavo- giraffe male-  from Fresno Chaffee Zoo (Left), Kijiji- giraffe female (Middle Front), Maggie- giraffe female (Middle Back), and Male from San Diego Zoo (Bottom Right) bonding on male giraffes first day on African Savanna habitat at Oakland Zoo; Photo Credit Oakland Zoo;Steve Goodall

"Tsavo's move to Oakland Zoo is one example of the great ongoing partnerships between AZA-accredited zoos. The Animal Care teams at Fresno Chaffee Zoo and Oakland Zoo worked together to make sure that Tsavo's move is in the best interest of him as an individual animal and his species as a whole. It is a complex process to move a giraffe safely and humanely, so our teams cooperated on a number of details, including training and preparation, to allow him maximum choice and control throughout the process," saysJon Forrest Dohlin, Chief Executive Officer of Fresno Chaffee Zoo.

In November 2018, a then-1½-year-old Tsavo came to Fresno Chaffee Zoo from Dallas Zoo. During his time atFresno Chaffee Zoo, Tsavo had a significant impact on both staff and guests.Keeper staff have enjoyed seeing Tsavo grow and loved his inquisitive nature and interest in exploring his habitat and new items, including new enrichment when presented and new food. 

"Tsavo's curious nature and frequent visits to giraffe feeding platform make him a favorite of guests and zookeepers alike. We know that he will continue to be a great ambassador for reticulated giraffes and the conservation issues his species face atOakland Zoo," saidVernon Presley, Curator of Elephants and Ungulates at Fresno ChaffeeZoo.  

The giraffe herd not only welcomed Tsavo this week but also another young male giraffe from San DiegoZoo. He has also joined Tsavo and the rest of the herd in Oakland Zoo's AfricanSavanna.

"Partnerships, collaboration, and planning with other AZA-accredited Zoos is key to the success of our zoos and the animals that call them home. Animal welfare goes beyond the daily care and dedicated attention our animal residents receive from our animal care staff. Planning for their futures and strengthening their social structures also play a vital role in our animals' lives," says Nik Dehejia, ChiefExecutive Officer of Oakland Zoo.

Tsavo- giraffe male - from Fresno Chaffee Zoo with male giraffe from San Diego Zoo exploring their new habitat at Oakland Zoo's African Savanna;Photo Credit Oakland Zoo;Steve Goodall

Oakland Zoo has a dedicated group of 23 full-time, part-time, intern, and volunteer animal care staff caring for the giraffe herd. In 2007, Oakland Zoo became widely recognized for developing a new hoof-care trimming technique that revolutionized the process by eliminating stress on the animal during the procedure, it is now practiced on captive giraffe around the world. The work done by the Zoo's animal care staff broke barriers of what were standard practices in giraffe care. Articles were published in countries worldwide, shedding new light on what was possible for giraffes in human care.

Both zoos strive to provide the best care to the giraffes in their herds while also preserving endangered giraffe populations. Over the past 15 years, giraffes in Africa have faced a"silent extinction" with a 40 percent decline in their population.Both zoos partner with the Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya, a conservation organization dedicated to working with local communities in Africa to help reduce human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss to preserve endangered giraffe populations in the wild.




Isabella Linares



Office: 510-632-9525ext. 239


Erin Harrison



Office:510-632-9525 ext. 120


Brandy Gamoning

Fresno Chaffee Zoo


Office: 559-498-5936





Oakland Zoo, home to more than 850 native and exotic animals, is managed by the Conservation Society of California (CSC); anon-profit organization leading an informed and inspired community to take action for wildlife locally and globally. With over 25 conservation partners and projects worldwide, the CSC is committed to conservation-based education and saving species and their habitats in the wild. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.



Fresno Chaffee Zoo is home to over220 species and its exhibits include Sea Lion Cove, Stingray Bay, and AfricanAdventure. The Zoo welcomes over 800,000 guests annually, offering a world-class guest experience and conservation education to all who visit. The mission of Fresno Chaffee Zoo is to inspire wonder of our natural world, provide an engaging learning environment, and create a passion for conservation.



Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums isa nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation.AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and 12 other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world.



There are nine subspecies of giraffes, each distinguishable by their geographical range and coat pattern. G. c.reticulata is a bit smaller than the other subspecies and has a distinct pattern. Reticulated giraffes are patterned with large polygons separated by cream-colored lines that look rather like a net, hence the name 'reticulated'.Head-body length is 12-15 ft.; height to ossicone tips is 15-18 ft.