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Meet Oakland Zoo's latest bundle of joy, a male giraffe named Nuru

Oakland Zoo welcomes new male giraffe named Nuru
Oakland Zoo welcomes new male giraffe named Nuru 02:59

The Oakland Zoo and its staff are excited about the latest bundle of joy to join them, a giraffe named Nuru, and they're hoping visitors will be as well after meeting him.

From the moment Amy Phelps met her first giraffe, she knew right then and there, she found her higher calling. 

 "My parents lived down the street from one of the Bay Area zoos when I was a child and so I spent much of each week there," she said. 

Now, as an adult, she's the manager of the African Savanna Species at the Oakland Zoo, where she takes care of six gentle giants.

"They're pretty amazing. They don't look like they should be real, but they are," she said. 

These days, much of her attention is focused on one giraffe called Nuru, a recent arrival from New Orleans.

Nuru, which means "light" in Swahili, is making his public debut after spending a month in quarantine. And while it may seem like a tall tale, zookeepers hope his arrival will spark a love connection. 

"He is here to breed with Kijiji," Phelps said, "And possibly someday Kendi, who is our young calf."

The giraffe is the world's tallest land mammal and a prime attraction at zoos around the world. Sadly, it is also in great peril, as illegal trade and loss of habitat threaten its survival. 

Nuru is what is what's knowns as Reticulated Giraffe, which was designated as a threatened species in 2018, with a little over 11,000 left in the wild. 

The idea, Phelps said, is to have Nuru and the rest of the gang, serve as ambassadors for conservation. 

"One thing we know about conservation is people conserve what they love and they care about what they know," she said. 

And it wouldn't be a stretch to say that visitors here have fallen love with the big bundle of joy who at 13 months is already 10 feet-tall. 

"He's wonderful, and I just really hope that when people come here and see them they'll want to do their job and protect them," said Susan Elwell, who came to see him all the way from Chicago.

As for Nuru, he's still a little shy, mostly keeping to himself.  

"He is just like any kid who goes to a new school and they're trying to learn the different cliques and where to sit at lunch. That's what he's trying to do too," Phelps said.

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