“This was a crucial step in Mituni’s natural growth,” Kristi Burtis, the director of wildlife care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said. “As her bond with the herd grows stronger, she’ll be able to pick up tricks and abilities that are important for a young giraffe’s development.”

According to conservationists, fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in their natural environments. It is expected that there are less than 100,000 giraffes in the animal’s native areas today — a loss of more than 40% over the past two decades. Habitat deterioration, fragmentation, and poaching are all thought to be responsible for the decline.

“Msituni’s survival in the face of so much adversity is all the more remarkable given the birth of every animal is a cherished occurrence,” Kinney added.