A six-foot-tall baby has arrived at the zoo: A male baby giraffe was born on June 14! Baby and mom are bonding behind-the-scenes in the giraffe barn.
Female giraffe Zahra delivered the baby, her first, around 5:00 PM Sunday in the giraffe barn, according to African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson. “It was a textbook delivery,” says Eagleson. “The whole delivery took about two hours.”
The baby’s father is Ezeji. Both Ezeji and Zahra are five years old.
Giraffes give birth standing up, and the baby falls feet-first to the ground. Keepers had bedded Zahra’s stall with a thick layer of wood shavings to cushion the baby’s landing. Immediately after the birth, Zahra began licking the calf to clean him.
“Within an hour of birth, the calf stood up and was walking, although he was a bit wobbly,” says Eagleson. “He began nursing shortly afterward.” These survival instincts are a great advantage to baby giraffes born in the wild, who can be targeted by predators.
The calf has not yet been named. He will remain in the barn with Zahra for several weeks, while he gains strength and gets acquainted with the five other members of the zoo’s giraffe herd. “Our other adult females, including the calf’s grandmother Zuri, are extremely interested in the calf,” says Eagleson. “They were licking and sniffing him through the wire walls of the stall.”
The new calf is the 23rd giraffe born at the zoo since 1976.
Watch the zoo’s social media accounts for updates on the calf, including an announcement on when he will debut in the giraffe exhibit.
UPDATE 6/17/15: Video of calf’s first vet exam (one day old).
UPDATE 6/19/15: Zoo keepers named the new giraffe baby Kiango, which means “light” or “sunshine” in Swahili.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.