Saturday, May 18

NC Zoo Announces Winning Name for Giraffe Calf

Photo provided by NC Zoo

ASHEBORO N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo has announced the name chosen by the public of the giraffe calf born last month on May 20th.

With more than 100,00 total votes the Zoo announced that out of the six choices, the winning name is “Fenn.” 

The other names offered were, “Nelson,” after Nelson Mandela, “Mosi”, African name used for firstborn son, “Tamu” Swahili for sweet, “Jackson” The calf’s dad is named Jack, Son of Jack, and “Bongani” This Zulu name means grateful, thankful.

Fenn was chosen after the founders of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Julian, and Stephanie Fennessy. World Giraffe Day is celebrated every year on June 21.

Fenn was about six feet tall and 145 pounds when he was born on May 20th of 2023, and is expected to grow to 10-12 feet by his first birthday and reach full height at four years old. 

The parents are Leia, born in 2009 at Zoo Miami and arrived at the Zoo in 2014, and Jack, born in 2008 at Dickerson Park Zoo and arrived at the Zoo in 2009. Their pairing resulted from a recommendation by the Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which maintains the genetic diversity of species that are in human care.

The Zoo’s giraffe tower now numbers five – males Jack, Turbo, and Fenn and females Leia and Amelia.

Giraffes are the tallest land animals with female giraffes growing to up to fourteen feet tall, weigh 1,500 pounds, and males are up to eighteen feet tall and can weigh 3,000 pounds. “At this height, a giraffe can look into a second-story window,” said the NC Zoo in a press release. “Male and female giraffes can live to about 25 years in the wild and even longer under human care.”

  • No two giraffes have the same coat pattern, like human fingerprints. And a group of giraffes is called a “tower.”
  • Giraffes are native to sub-Saharan Africa and are very social animals, traveling in large towers (groups) of all ages and sexes.
  • They are listed as a “Vulnerable” species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and approximately 68,000 are found in the wild, with numbers decreasing because of habitat loss, poaching (illegal hunting), and disease threatening their distribution throughout Africa.

The North Carolina Zoo is actively involved in giraffe conservation and research in Tanzania. You can read more about our staff working to save giraffes in the wild here on the Zoo’s Blog.