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Contact(s):Susan Altrui
501-661-7208 direct
501-351-0273 cell
saltrui@littlerock.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE :
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NEW GIRAFFE NOW ON EXHIBIT AT THE LITTLE ROCK ZOO

The Little Rock Zoo is proud to announce that Mesi, a one-year-old giraffe, is now on exhibit in the giraffe yard.

Mesi arrived at the Little Rock Zoo from the San Diego Wild Animal Park June 29 of this year to be a companion for Jigsaw, a five-year-old giraffe living at the Little Rock Zoo since birth. Mesi was paired with Jigsaw at the recommendation of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) and the giraffe Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), both organized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Jigsaw had been alone in his exhibit since the death of his father, Barney, who died earlier this year as a result of frothy bloat, a sometimes-fatal condition common in hoof stock.

Zoo staff at the Little Rock Zoo have decided to keep the giraffe’s given name of Mesi, meaning “re-birth” in Egyptian.

Pairing Jigsaw with a mate was challenging because Jigsaw was born with a rare blood parasite called Babesiosis. The disease causes a weakening of the immune system, and it is not recommended animals carrying the disease produce offspring. Mesi was recommended as a companion for Jigsaw largely because his genes are already well represented in the captive breeding population.

Mesi and Jigsaw became friends quickly and Zoo staff could not be more pleased with how well the two giraffes are getting along.

“Jigsaw has really taken to Mesi and it is very apparent that the two giraffes are happy to be around one another,” said Bill Baker, curator for hoof stock.

While on exhibit, the two giraffes can often be seen nuzzling necks and standing side-by-side. Zoo staff say Mesi is still getting used to his new home and is not as comfortable with the giraffe yard as Jigsaw is. “Mesi is very dependent on Jigsaw for reassurance. However, he is slowly starting to venture out into the yard on his own,” said Baker.

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