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Happy first birthday, Misawa!

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Editor

As giraffe calf Misawa nears his first birthday, coming up on August 6, we look back at a year of firsts for our not-so-little guy.

The first look 

Misawa at one day old. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Everyone remembers the first photo we shared of Seattle’s tallest baby—the infamous “grumpy” look on his face turned Misawa into a viral sensation. But in truth, the very first look at Misawa we got was in the incredible footage of his birth!

Mom Olivia gave birth to the 6-foot-tall giraffe on August 6 at 7:03 p.m. The labor lasted about 1.5 hours and the video shows little Misawa finding his feet and standing for the first time just 1.5 hours after he was born!

The first day outside 

The first few days were spent nursing and bonding with mom inside the Giraffe Barn, but it wasn’t long before Misawa ventured into the outdoor area of the barn. Mom Olivia and Aunt Tufani were never too far from his side—and often right on top of him!

Mom Olivia and Aunt Tufani giving Misawa some TLC. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

The first taste 

Though he was still nursing from mom, Misawa began to sample hay, grain and leaves to get a taste for the giraffe’s natural browser diet. Then he got a taste of getting a taste. You know, like going head first into a feed bucket only to get his head momentarily stuck, or letting his tongue do the investigating when he spotted the webcam secured in the corner of the barn:

The first big adventure 

A young Misawa on his first savanna exploration. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

At around 7 feet tall and nearly three months old, Misawa was ready to begin exploring the vast savanna exhibit. Though he stayed close to mom’s side at first, he grew more and more venturous with time. Soon he was ready to meet his neighbors that share the savanna—zebra, oryx, gazelle and ostrich.

When it comes to the other animals in the exhibit, Misawa has grown from cautious to curious to affectionate, often showing way more interest in them than they show in return!

Here he is checking out the oryx:

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

And checking out the ostrich:

Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo.

The first friend 

For most of his young life, Misawa has been part of a tight knit herd of three—Misawa, mom Olivia and Aunt Tufani. But boy has Misawa found room in his life for his newest and bestest friend—Dave!

Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo.

Nearly two-year-old Dave arrived from Brookfield Zoo to join our herd this spring, and Misawa has been absolutely taken with his new playmate. Dave had a younger sibling at Brookfield and knows how to deal with eager little buddies, so he’s doing a great job of taking Misawa’s affectionate licks and head rubs. Like any friends, sometimes Dave wants his space, but the two ultimately get along well and are settling into a comfortable new herd dynamic.

Misawa giving Dave a head rub. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

The first birthday 

Misawa wears his party hat (while eating out of a second one). Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo.

Misawa’s first birthday is coming up on August 6 and he’s ready for the extra attention! Looking dapper in his party hat, he posed for this photo for us so we can start the celebration. We’d love for you to sign his birthday card by leaving a comment here. We'll compile all the birthday notes from here and our Facebook page for the zookeepers.

To get things started, Misawa's keepers have their own special birthday note to share:
Happy birthday little guy! 
You’ve grown up so fast and you have lots more growing to do. We’re so happy to be a part of your first year at the zoo. Here’s to many more fun days on the savanna with all the browse and sunshine you could want. 
- From all your loving savanna keepers!

Aunt Tufani gets in on the birthday fun while Misawa looks on. Photo by Kirsten Pisto/Woodland Park Zoo.

Then come wish Misawa a happy birthday in person! Misawa will be hanging out at the giraffe feedings on August 6 from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ($5 per person, cash only; please note feedings may be interrupted or canceled without notice because of weather or animal appetites).

To mark this special occasion, you can become a ZooParent and adopt a giraffe today! Your adoption fee will help care for the animals at the zoo like Misawa and his herd. Plus, $5 of your adoption fee will go directly to support Woodland Park Zoo’s field conservation efforts like the Tarangire Elephant Project working to protect savanna habitat for giraffes, elephants and their wild neighbors.


Allison said…
Happy Birthday Misawa! It's hard to believe you grew up so fast, but even though you're only a year old, you're not a baby anymore!

Love, Allison
Anonymous said…
happy birthday misawa! we came to visit you last august and hope to visit on your birthday!
Michelle said…
Happy Birthday! It's been so much fun watching you grow up and make friends with the other animals on the savannah. I'm glad you have a new buddy too! May your day be filled with lots of neck rubs!