"While exact due dates are difficult to predict, we expect a calf this winter," Seneca Park Zoo veterinarian Dr. Chris McKinney said in a statement
A 6-year-old Masai giraffe at the Seneca Park Zoo is pregnant; a discovery made several months after the animal was diagnosed with cancer.
The New York zoo revealed the news while sharing an update on Kipenzi's condition on Friday. "In working closely with Kipenzi to train her for medical procedures, we have been able to take ultrasounds, as we had some evidence she might be pregnant. We can also now confirm and share that Kipenzi is pregnant," Dr. Chris McKinney, a veterinarian at the zoo, said in a statement.
"While exact due dates are difficult to predict, we expect a calf this winter," he added. "Having said that, giraffe births are always high risk, and with Kipenzi's medical conditions, we are extremely guarded in projecting an outcome."
The zoo is being especially cautious about Kipenzi's pregnancy and care because the giraffe was diagnosed with cancer this summer. In August, the Seneca Park Zoo shared that the animal had a squamous cell carcinoma growth on her jaw.
"Guests to the Animals of the Savanna habitats are now noticing the change in the shape of Kipenzi's facial structure," Steve Lacy, the zoo's superintendent, said in a statement about the slow-growing tumor.
Kipenzi is currently receiving a topical treatment for the cancerous growth. McKinney said the treatment "stimulates the giraffe's own immune system to attack the tumor." This is the first time this treatment has been used on a giraffe, according to the zoo, but the treatment has been effective for other species.
Despite the tumor's location, McKinney shared that Kipenzi is "eating well, behaving normally, and allowing animal care teams to treat the area."
Kipenzi turned six in April and arrived at the zoo in August 2018. The zoo also has two additional Masai giraffes — Iggy and Olmsted. Iggy is also pregnant and is currently in her expected delivery window.
According to a previous news release from the zoo, Kipenzi's growth on her jaw has been monitored by zoo staff since being observed in late spring 2023. In August, she underwent a biopsy, which tested positive for cancer.
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"Sadly, these biopsy results are not what we were hoping for, but I know the zoo's dedicated and compassionate animal care team will continue to do all they can to ensure she remains comfortable and does not suffer," shared Adam Bello, a Monroe County executive, in a previous statement.
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