The infamous “grumpy” look on Misawa's face that turned him into a viral sensation. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Misawa was born at Woodland Park Zoo on August 6, 2013. He is the son of 8-year-old female Olivia and 7-year-old male Chioke, who passed away before Misawa was born from complications associated with his gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. “Misawa’s birth was particularly significant for Woodland Park Zoo,” explained Martin Ramirez, mammal curator at the zoo. “He not only carries on the genes of his late father Chioke, but he was also the first viable giraffe born at the zoo since 1997; his set of circumstances makes his story, and him, all the more extraordinary.”
The zoo introduced Misawa to the public by revealing incredible footage from his birth that included him standing for the first time. He became a viral sensation at just 1 day old when the zoo shared his first photo featuring the legendary “grumpy face” look. “It is ironic that the media deemed him the ‘grumpy faced giraffe’ because he is far from a grump,” said zookeeper Katie Ahl. “He is a lot like his father Chioke; he’s very sweet-tempered and affectionate.”
Over the past two years, Misawa has grown from a goofy, long-legged calf into a playful explorer. When he was about 3 months old he began to venture out onto the vast savanna exhibit. While he stayed by his mom Olivia’s side at first, he grew more and more adventurous with time, eventually roaming the exhibit on his own and interacting with his neighbors the zebra, oryx, gazelle and ostrich.
At almost 1-year-old Misawa met 2-year-old male giraffe Dave, his new exhibit mate, and closest friend. “Dave arrived from Brookfield Zoo to join our zoo’s herd and Misawa was absolutely taken with his new playmate,” said Ahl. “Dave had a younger sibling at Brookfield so he knew how to handle little ones with ease; he did a great job of taking Misawa’s affectionate licks and head rubs.”
At around 7-feet-tall, and nearly three months old, Misawa was ready to begin exploring the vast savanna exhibit with mom Olivia. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Misawa celebrated his first and second birthday in style. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo's giraffes (from left to right) Olivia, Dave, Misawa and Tufani. Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo
Giraffe fans can help support conservation efforts by visiting Woodland Park Zoo and supporting Wildlife Survival Fund projects, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which seeks to provide the first long-term ecological monitoring effort of the Angolan giraffe—an important desert-dwelling giraffe subspecies in north-western Namibia. Visit www.zoo.org/conservation to learn more about the zoo’s conservation partnerships taking place in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.
The zoo's little guy (at one-month-old on the left) is all grown up (at 2-years-old on the right) and ready to start his own family at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo