By Melanie J. Knox, Page Editor
In April, when a male giraffe was born at the Abilene Zoo, more than 200 people suggested names, like High Stepper, High Hat, Bart Jr., Twigs and Zelda.
But the giraffe has now been dubbed “Nelson” after Grover Nelson Park, where the zoo is located. Julie Bright and Kerri Lane suggested the name and received a complimentary membership to the zoo.
Nelson lives at the zoo now with his mother, Asha.
They are the only two giraffes at the zoo since Nelson’s father, Bart, had to be euthanized when it was discovered that he had a bone disease that was affecting his legs.
For now, Nelson’s mother is still nursing him, but he is starting to eat grains from a lower feeder inside the barn.
“Our regular visitors are enjoying watching him grow so quickly,” said Jeff Bullock, zoo director. “It’s interesting to see their reactions to something so small that will one day be so large.”
The zoo is hoping to expand the giraffe exhibit in late September by adding two more young giraffes.
Nelson will then be sent to another facility in order to ensure that he will not breed with his mother.
By the time spring rolls around, there may be four giraffes for Abilene’s enjoyment.
Giraffe is a species that is managed as a population, with a step book on all the captive giraffes that explains who they are related to.
This allows the zoos to know which giraffe will breed the best with other giraffes and to help them maintain a high domestic population.
“We don’t want to have to bring any more giraffes from the wild into captivity,” Bullock said.
While giraffes are not an endangered species, they are considered a threatened species, which means they are at risk because of habitat loss.