Young giraffe named Buttercup, standing 12 feet tall, arrives at - KPTV - FOX 12

Young giraffe named Buttercup, standing 12 feet tall, arrives at Oregon Zoo

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New Oregon Zoo Masai giraffe, Buttercup. (Image: Oregon Zoo) New Oregon Zoo Masai giraffe, Buttercup. (Image: Oregon Zoo)
New Oregon Zoo Masai giraffe, Buttercup. (Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo) New Oregon Zoo Masai giraffe, Buttercup. (Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Oregon Zoo has welcomed a 2-year-old giraffe that is 12 feet tall and still growing.  

Buttercup, a male Masai giraffe, arrived from the Santa Barbara Zoo this week.

He made the move to Portland in an extra-tall trailer equipped with a video camera so keepers could make sure he was safe.

Buttercup will spend a month adjusting to his new home. Oregon Zoo visitors should expect to see him later in the fall.

Eventually, Buttercup will be introduced to his new companions, Bakari and Desi, as well as smaller animals in the outdoor Africa Savanna habitat like ground hornbills and Speke's gazelles.

Masai giraffes - the largest giraffe subspecies and the tallest mammals on earth - can grow to around 18 feet tall. Their tongues can reach up to 21 inches long, they can run up to 35 mph and they have the ability to eat up to 75 pounds of leaves and brush a day.

The conservation status of the Masai subspecies is currently under review by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Scientists estimate fewer than 33,000 of these giraffes remain in eastern Africa, where populations have declined by more than 50 percent in recent years, in part due to poaching, according to zoo workers.

"That's barely enough to sustain a healthy population into the future," said Oregon Zoo deputy director Sheri Horizsny, who serves as the SSP coordinator for giraffes. "Every Masai giraffe we care for is critical to keeping this species alive, and Buttercup is especially important, genetically speaking, because he has very few relatives in zoos. Our hope is that he will start a family of his own one day."

Buttercup was 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 186 pounds at birth in November 2014. He stoop upright with an assist after about 50 minutes.

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