Mshangao is a three-year-old giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) that recently arrived at WCS’s Bronx Zoo from the Indianapolis Zoo and will be the zoo’s new breeding male. Currently, Mshangao is getting used to his new home, the zookeeper staff, and our giraffe herd.
As a prey species, giraffes are naturally very cautious and skittish animals. They are constantly standing vigil for danger. In the wild, giraffes will only sleep an average of 30 minutes a night and break that up into less than one minute power naps. As the world’s tallest mammal, other prey species such as antelope and zebra often congregate around giraffes that will be the first ones to spot impending danger.
While they may be skittish, giraffes are adept at defending themselves. One kick from their powerful back hooves can easily break a lion’s neck. And while they may look awkward at first glance, giraffes are quite graceful and can run at speeds of 35 miles per hour.
Due to their flighty nature, much of the training that Bronx Zoo keepers do with our giraffe herd involves desensitizing them to new things. Mshangao, which is the Swahili word for surprise, is settling in nicely and will be a dynamic new addition to the zoo’s breeding program.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: The story of this giraffe was featured on Sunday’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.