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Maryland Zoo welcomes new lioness, giraffe

Maryland Zoo Baltimore

Badu the lioness and Kesi the giraffe have taken up permanent residence in Charm City.

The newest critters to call the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore home are going on public display for the first time this week.

Kesi (rhymes with Jesse) was obtained from the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo in Indiana and arrived in Baltimore on Oct. 12. She stands about 11 feet tall and weighs around 1,000 pounds, according to Mike McClure, the zoo's general curator.

"She is still acclimating to her new environment and getting used to seeing people inside the Giraffe House," he said.

Badu is a transplant from the Racine Zoo in Wisconsin. Since arriving in July, she has slowly been introduced to the zoo's other lions, Cuma, a 16-year-old female, and Hassan, a 4-year-old male, McClure said.

"...Lions can be very aggressive, so we are taking the introduction ... very slowly," he explained.

Both animals were sent to Baltimore at the recommendation of the Giraffe and Lion Species Survival Plans, coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of efforts to ensure the health of the captive animal population. There are approximately 600 giraffes and 220 African lions in AZA-accredited American zoos, according to a release from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

Kesi can be seen regularly in the Giraffe House, McClure said, while Badu can be seen only on occasion. "She will be on-and-off exhibit as she is introduced to both Cuma and Hassan," McClure said.

Chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com.

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