The San Diego Zoo’s Masai Giraffe herd grew with the addition of a male calf at the end of May.
The newborn calf stood six feet tall and tipped the scales at 146 pounds. Like all Giraffes, Harriet, the calf’s mother, gave birth to her baby while standing up. The baby emerges front feet first and drops to the ground. The fall helps separate the calf from the placenta and stimulates breathing.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
Masai Giraffes are one of nine Giraffe subspecies that range across Africa. Populations have fallen by nearly half in the last decades to about 80,000 individuals today, mainly due to habitat loss. Giraffes must also compete with livestock for resources. In some parts of Africa, armed conflicts have complicated conservation efforts and put Giraffes further at risk.
A Rothschild’s Giraffe has been born at Paignton Zoo. The male calf was born to mother Janica on the morning of May 19. Sadly, his mother rejected him, so zookeepers have stepped in to bottle feed him.
Senior Keeper, Craig Gilchrist, said, “He has taken milk from us; he is getting the hang of it. Mammal keepers, Helen Neighbour and Jim Dicks, are doing the feeding. He is separated from the group but can see them all. For the first few days, it is important to keep him separate to allow him to bond with the keepers so he feels comfortable enough to feed from them. As soon as possible, he will be reintroduced to the herd so he doesn’t forget he is a giraffe!”
Paignton Zoo Curator of Mammals, Neil Bemment, added, “At this stage we don’t know why Janica has rejected him. Giraffe mothers are fickle beasts. Sometimes they will rear their calves, sometimes they won’t. For example, Janica reared her first, Tonda, who is now the breeding bull at Chessington Zoo, Surrey, but declined to rear her second Valentino, who was successfully hand reared by the keepers, reintroduced to the family group, and is now in Port Lympne Zoo, Kent.”
Paignton Zoo is going to get through a lot of milk over the next few months. Craig added, “At the moment we need about 4 to 6 litres of gold top milk each day. He will take in around 10% of his body weight in milk each day and gain weight just as quickly. As he grows, so will his milk requirements.”
Photo Credits: Paignton Zoo
Hand rearing a giraffe is a lot of extra work and commitment for the keepers. “He is fed 4 times a day and could need milk for up to 9 months. We will start weaning him when he is around 5 to 6 months, depending on how he gets on.”
The calf stands at nearly six feet tall at birth. The gestation period for a giraffe is between 400 and 460 days. The mother gives birth standing up, and the fall breaks the umbilical cord. The calf can stand and run within a few hours.
Father, Yoda, came from Givskud Zoo, Denmark, where he was born on 14th November 2004. He arrived at Devon in September 2006. Janica came to Paignton Zoo from Duvr Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.
The Zoo’s other adult female is Sangha, who came from Liberec Zoo, also in the Czech Republic. The other youngsters at the Zoo are Otilie, who was born in September 2012, and Joanna, born in January 2014 (both to mother Sangha) and Eliska, born in January last year to Janica.
All the giraffes at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park (a registered charity in the UK) are Rothschild’s Giraffes.
Shani, a six-year-old Masai Giraffe at the Sacramento Zoo, gave birth to a healthy 163-pound male calf on April 10.
The calf has been given the name Rocket. Zookeepers chose the name based on his playful personality and "on-the-go" attitude.
Currently, mother and son spend most of their time behind-the-scenes in the barn, bonding, with periodic exercise sessions in the side-yard. Rocket is also becoming acquainted with his herd-mates, or “tower”, as they stick their head over fences or stall doors to inspect him. The calf is also learning to manipulate browse with his long, prehensile tongue, even though nursing is his still his main source of nourishment.
Based on the signs Rocket, Shani, and the rest of the herd are giving, zookeepers anticipate the pair making their public exhibit debut in mid-May. However much like other timelines at the Zoo, staff members confess that everything will be done on mom and the calf’s terms.
In the meantime, Rocket and Shani will have intermittent access to the giraffe barn’s side-yard, where lucky and quiet guests might catch a glimpse of Rocket. Staff report that these viewing areas will continue to remain quiet zones, creating a peaceful environment for the pair until the time that they venture out into the main exhibit.
Photo Credits: Sacramento Zoo
The Sacramento Zoo is now home to six giraffes: three female Reticulated Giraffes, one male Masai Giraffe (Chifu, the father of the new calf), one female Masai Giraffe (Shani, the mother), and the calf. In 2010, the Zoo completed renovations on the giraffe exhibit that includes a state-of-the-art, heated barn. This is the 19th calf born at the Sacramento Zoo, going back to 1964 when the species was first housed here.
The Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is divided into nine subspecies. There are three subspecies most commonly found in zoological facilities: Reticulated, Rothschild, and Masai.
The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies and tallest land mammal. It is native to Kenya and Tanzania.
In addition to a difference in size, Reticulated and Masai Giraffes have slightly different spot patterns; a Masai Giraffe's spots are usually darker and irregular in shape.
Gestation is 14 to 15 months with the female giving birth alone in a secluded spot away from predators. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as six feet and weigh 150 pounds. Within minutes, the baby is able to stand on its own.
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Masai may be the most populous of the Giraffe subspecies. There is an estimated fewer than 37,000 remaining in the wild, (though recent reports of significant poaching would suggest it likely to be significantly less) and approximately 100 individuals kept in zoos.
Habitat loss, poaching, disease and civil unrest pose the most significant threats to wild giraffe.
The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens recently welcomed a new addition. A female Reticulated Giraffe calf was born April 8 in the Bernard Osher Foundation Giraffe Barn.
Mother, Barbro, and her calf are in excellent condition, and the calf stood up and took her first steps within 30 minutes of birth. She’s already more than six-feet tall!
“It is such a special time when babies are born at the Zoo,” said Tanya M. Peterson, President of the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. “You can’t help but fall in love with this calf the moment you see her. We are so fortunate to be able to share this exciting news with our community.”
Photo Credits: Images 1,3,4,5: San Francisco Zoo / Image 2: Marianne Hale
The newest arrival joins six other giraffes in the herd. The calf, not yet named, has a two-year-old sister, Sarah. Dad, Floyd, has fathered a number of giraffes at the Zoo.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.
The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos.
A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs. at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth, and they are weaned at around one year of age.
In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin.
Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The Santa Barbara Zoo has a new Masai Giraffe calf. Audrey, aged eight, gave birth to the calf on the evening of March 26 in the Zoo’s Giraffe Barn, after approximately five hours of labor.
The male calf has been named “Chad” in honor of long-time Santa Barbara Zoo supporters, the Dreier Family. The Dreier Family has sponsored seven Giraffes at the Zoo including Chad’s parents Michael and Audrey. “Chad” represents many members of the Dreier family whose first or middle names contain the appellation.
At the calf’s first exam by the Santa Barbara Zoo Animal Care team, the male was measured at six-feet-six-inches-tall and weighed 191 pounds.
Photo Credits: Santa Barbara Zoo
According to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s director of animal care, Sheri Horiszny, Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of roughly 14.5 months and are typically 125-150 pounds and six feet tall at birth. Chad should grow approximately three feet during his first year of life. Horiszny is also the Program Leader for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Masai Giraffe Species Survival Program.
Chad recently made his public debut and explored the outdoor exhibit with mom Audrey. Zoo staff say the best time to catch a glimpse of Chad is between 10am and noon.
The Zoo’s Giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai Giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Michael, the calf’s sire, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai Giraffe in captivity, because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born here at the Zoo, which now numbers five.
“Michael’s genetics greatly help the diversity of the North American Masai population,” said Sheri Horiszny, director of animal care. “Every Masai Giraffe born here is critical to keeping the gene pool robust.”
This is the fourth birth for Audrey at the Zoo. Her last calf, Buttercup, born in November 2014, is currently part of the Zoo’s herd. The Zoo’s other female, Betty Lou, is also pregnant, and is expected to give birth in July 2016. This is her third pregnancy and her other offspring are at other accredited zoos as part of a cooperative breeding program of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.
Standing at 6’4”, Brevard Zoo’s newest addition is the tallest Masai Giraffe ever born at the facility.
After a gestation period lasting more than a year, 14-year-old Milenna gave birth to the male calf early on March 7.
The little one is the second Giraffe born at the Florida zoo in under four months. A female, who has yet to be named, was born to Johari on November 29, 2015. Seventeen-year-old Rafiki is the father of both calves.
Photo Credits: Brevard Zoo
“Our team conducted a neonatal exam on Tuesday afternoon [March 8] and everything looks good so far,” said Michelle Smurl, the Zoo’s director of animal programs. “He’s very energetic, which is always a positive sign.”
The calf is not expected to make its public debut for several weeks while he bonds with his mother behind the scenes. In the meantime, the public is encouraged to monitor Brevard Zoo’s social media channels for updates.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is excited to announce the arrival of their second female Giraffe calf of the year. The newest arrival was born on the evening of February 1st.
The birth delighted Zoofari guests who had the chance to witness it during their evening, behind-the-scenes tour. Tour guides quickly alerted Keepers, who excitedly found the healthy calf.
Keepers have named the new female Kito (kee-toe), meaning “gem” in Swahili.
Kito is the first calf for mother, Myzita, who is showing all the right maternal behaviors.
“Kito is on exhibit with the rest of the herd including our other calf Nyah, born earlier this year,” said Giraffe Keeper Fiona Cameron. “She is distinguishable from Nyah by her size and her lighter coloring. Over the coming weeks, Kito will become more confident and we’ll start to see the two calves run, play and explore together. We are still expecting more Giraffe calves to be born this year, which is really very exciting.”
Photo Credits: Kellsey Melhuish / Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Giraffe numbers in the wild have been decreasing over the past decade it is estimated less than 80,000 Giraffe remain in the wild. The 30% drop in numbers is directly due to poaching for bush meat and also habitat encroachment by farmers.
“Every birth for a species, such as the Giraffe, that are seeing a decline in wild populations is important, as it helps to insure against extinction,” Fiona continued.
“Through programs such as Beads for Wildlife, we aim to help animals such as the
Giraffe by providing communities in Kenya with alternate income sources so they don’t have to rely so much on the herds and grazing. Less livestock means less pressure on water and food for wildlife such as the Giraffe.”
The young giraffe continues to spend all of her time with experienced mother Zora, and Auntie Che. Father, Julius, is the only adult male specimen living at BIOPARC Valencia and is the progenitor of the rest of the calves born in the park.
Lluna and her family can now be seen enjoying their outdoor enclosure. She is also slowly being introduced to other species that inhabit the Zoo’s savannah exhibit.
Photo Credits: BIOPARC Valencia
The Rothschild Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), also known as the Baringo Giraffe, is one of the most threatened of the nine sub-species of giraffe. It is named after the Tring Museum’s founder, Walter Rothschild.
All individuals living in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda. The Rothschild Giraffe is at risk of hybridization and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List, due to habitat destruction and poaching. Its geographic distribution includes central Kenya, northern Uganda and southern Sudan. According to latest figures, there are fewer than 1,500 individuals in the wild. BIOPARC Valencia participates in the EEP (captive breeding program for endangered species), and this new breeding is involved in this important initiative to preserve biodiversity.
The Rothschild Giraffe is distinguishable from other subspecies because of its coloring. Where as the Reticulated Giraffe has very defined dark patches with bright channels between, the Rothschild has paler, orange-brown patches that are less defined. Also, the Rothschild has no markings on the lower leg.
This subspecies mate any time of year and have a gestation period of 14 to 16 months, typically giving birth to a single calf. They prefer to live in small herds, with adult males and females only mixing for mating. Males are larger than females and tend to be darker in color.
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: “Current estimates of population size [of the Rothschild Giraffe] are well below 2,500 mature individuals, numbers are declining overall and no subpopulation is estimated to contain more than 250 mature individuals. The population is potentially close to meeting the population threshold for Critically Endangered under criterion C, depending on the number of individuals, if any, that survive in south Sudan.”
Can you name a baby that was taller than an NBA point guard at birth? We can - this male Giraffe calf born at the Indianapolis Zoo on January 9.
Photo Credit: Carla Knapp/Indianapolis Zoo
The calf is the zoo’s first baby of 2016 and stood six feet tall at birth and weighed 158 pounds. The calf has not yet been named, but the zoo plans to hold a naming contest for the newborn soon. This is the sixth calf — all of which were males — for 18-year-old mother Takasa. Like all Giraffes, Takasa gave birth standing up. The calf stood and nursed by the time he was one hour old.
Zoo keepers said the calf likes to explore his surroundings, but rarely ventures far from his mother. He is the first calf for the zoo’s bull Giraffe, Majani. Keepers note that the calf’s coloration is very similar to Majani’s, with pale, caramel-colored spots in contrast with Takasa’s cinnamon-colored spots.
The tallest land mammals on the planet, Giraffes are under threat from shrinking wild lands and armed conflicts in their native sub-Saharan Africa.
The Zoo’s Giraffe herd will remain in a heated indoor facility throughout the winter. The new family is expected to make its debut in the spring, and at that time, guests will have an opportunity to meet the new calf.
Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce a six-foot bundle of leggy joy: A baby Giraffe named Willow was born on January 13.
Photo Credit: Utah's Hogle Zoo
The female calf hit the ground - literally – shortly after noon. Giraffes deliver their babies standing up, so their calves face a four-foot drop as they enter the world. This fall helps to break the umbilical cord and stimulates the baby to breathe. Willow’s mom, 13-year-old Pogo, immediately began licking and cleaning her baby, and Willow stood and nursed within an hour of her birth.
Keepers estimate that Willow stood about six feet tall and weighed about 125 pounds at birth. Willow is the 17th Giraffe born at the Hogle Zoo.
The other Giraffes in the zoo’s herd are very interested in the new baby. Willow’s father, 12-year-old Riley, leans over the wall of a neighboring stall to sniff her. The other female Giraffes, who act as “aunties,” lick and sniff the newcomer as well.
Wild Giraffes live only in Africa, where they inhabit grasslands and savannahs. Until recently, Giraffe populations were thought to be stable, but scientists now know that their numbers have fallen dramatically in the last few decades. As humans convert formerly wild lands to pastures and farms, wild animals have fewer places to live. For large animals like Giraffes, loss of habitat is a significant threat to their survival.