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Bon voyage, Misawa! The lovable “grumpy face” giraffe departs zoo in October.

Posted by: Alissa Wolken, Communications

The infamous “grumpy” look on Misawa's face that turned him into a viral sensation. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo is preparing to say goodbye to its tallest baby, 2-year-old male giraffe Misawa (me-SAW-wah). The infamous “grumpy face” giraffe will pack his bags in early October and travel south to Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas to begin his own family.

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.”

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! Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
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 second birthday with mom, aunt Tufani and best bud Dave this past August with a special giraffe treat made of apples, carrots, yams and omolene frozen in a popsicle cake with leaf eater biscuit candles. “We knew he would be heading to his new home in the fall so we wanted to make his last birthday in Seattle special,” said Ahl. “It’s been a pleasure watching him grow from a 6-foot-tall curious calf into the 12-foot-tall (over 1500 pound) loving, adventurous guy he is today. It’s hard to say what it will be like after he leaves; it will be different that’s for sure. He’ll definitely be missed by his Seattle family.”
Misawa celebrated his first and second birthday in style. Photo by Katie Ahl/Woodland Park Zoo
Misawa has been paired with a female giraffe at Gladys Porter Zoo under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program to ensure genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 95 SSPs, overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, and genetics, SSPs manage populations in North America to maximize their genetic and demographic diversity with the goal of ensuring their long-term survival. SSPs also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.
Woodland Park Zoo's giraffes (from left to right) Olivia, Dave, Misawa and Tufani. Photo by Stan Milkowski/Woodland Park Zoo
Under the SSP, Dave has been recommended to breed with Olivia and Tufani; the plan is to breed him with both ladies in 2016. Visitors can see Woodland Park Zoo’s remaining giraffe on the award-winning African Savanna.
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 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
Bon voyage, Misawa! We are certainly going to miss you!


Anonymous said…
I hate to see "our" babies leave WPZ, but I guess it's best for the long-term viability of the captive North American population.