CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331 | Media Only: 502-744-5639
New addition to Zoo born during COVID-19 pandemic closure
The Louisville Zoo has announced the name of their newest addition, the female addax that was born at the Zoo on Friday, May 8, during the COVID-19 pandemic closure. Louisville Zoo officials chose the name, Jira (JEE-RA), which translates to “anticipation” in Hausa. Hausa is the most widely spoken language in Niger, which is the only region where the addax remain today.
“Jira’s species, the Saharan addax antelope, is dangerously close to extinction,” said John Walczak, Director of the Louisville Zoo. “We have conserved this species since the Zoo’s opening 51 years ago and have managed the reproduction of 60 calves. Jira is an important ambassador for her species in pursuing our mission of bettering the bond between people and our planet by educating everyone on the importance of conservation efforts.”
Jira’s birth was part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which helps maintain the genetic diversity of managed animal populations. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Saharan addax as critically endangered. In 2016, field researchers estimated that less than 100 of these mammals remain in the remnant wild due to poaching and habitat disturbances from oil exploration.
According to the Zoo staff, Jira is “independent and curious.” She has been living up to her name since the day after she was born, when she ran out to the outdoor addax exhibit by herself, eager to see the Zoo members and guests.
Louisville Zoo guests can visit Jira and the other addax on exhibit daily in the yard located near the bongo and elephant exhibits in the African zone.
For information on social distancing protocol and safe attendance, please visit louisvillezoo.org/together.
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About the Louisville Zoo
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).