New(s) at the Zoo: Baby giraffes join the fun as Fort Worth Zoo celebrates anniversary

Entertainers and visitors help celebrate 30th anniversary of the "New Zoo." (Photo by Amber Shumake)

The Fort Worth Zoo had plenty to celebrate this Thanksgiving wth a pair of newborn giraffes arriving in time to join the ongoing observance of the popular attraction’s “New Zoo in ’92” anniversary.

The two male giraffes were born at the zoo within the last month, zoo officials announced on Wednesday.

Sherlock, born Oct. 26 at 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and his sidekick, Watson, born on Nov. 6 at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, are named for the famous crime-solving sleuths Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The newborns are being cared for inside a barn until warmer, drier weather returns and they can explore the African Savanna. In June, the zoo welcomed a female giraffe named Pele. The zoo’s giraffe population is of the reticulated species, a name that describes the mammal’s chestnut-brown rectangular markings. Like human fingerprints, each giraffe pattern is different. Native to the African savannas, a giraffe’s most distinguishing feature is its long neck and 7-foot height.

Watson arrived the same day a western lowland gorilla was also born at the zoo. The baby, son of Gracie and Elmo, is the second western lowland gorilla born at the zoo. Western lowland gorillas are regarded as critically endangered by the Union for Conservation of Nature due to disease and hunting. Contributing to their endangerment, gorillas have an especially low reproductive rate, which would continue to threaten their survival even if disease and hunting were dramatically curtailed.

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Last weekend, the zoo marked the 30th anniversary of its “New Zoo in ’92” with a public celebration featuring live music and entertainment, giveaways and special animal-themed activities throughout the grounds.

The event commemorated the 1992 grand reopening of the upgraded zoo with vast new improvements, including naturalistic habitats for the animals. The reopening was the beginning of three decades of achievements and milestones at the zoo, which has become nationally acclaimed and a chart-topper on ranked lists of American zoos.

As part of the 30th anniversary celebration, the zoo released a three-part documentary series, exploring the zoo’s transformation from a declining municipal operation to a world-class institution, setting industry standards for conservation, animal care and education.

Since the reopening under new leadership in 1992, the Fort Worth Zoo has welcomed more than 30 million visitors and raised more than $300 million for ongoing improvements and support of conservation initiatives, education and animal care.