The Zoo’s veterinary team completed a visual exam this morning and the calf is off to a great start. It has not been determined whether it is a male or female. The calf is standing on all fours and is walking and moving well alongside his mother. There is a strong suckling reflex and nursing has been seen at least once this morning. The keepers will continue to monitor the pair closely over the next few days to ensure Kristin’s offspring is nursing regularly.
“The first 24 hours after any birth are always vital,” said Jacqueline Jencek, DVM, chief of veterinary services at the San Francisco Zoo. “We want to see the calf nursing, walking, sitting down and standing up. It’s part of early development and allows us to ensure the calf is progressing well.”
Reticulated giraffes are found in Central and South African regions and are the tallest of all living land animal species. There are eight giraffe sub-species and reticulated giraffes are listed as near-threatened. Population of the species continues to decline due to poaching, habitat loss environmental degradation and human encroachment. The San Francisco Zoo is actively participating with the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums’ Population Management Plan to help breed and maintain a strong genetic line for the species.
Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months and the female gives birth standing up, a six foot drop for the calf’s grand entrance into the world. Newborn giraffes can be up to six feet tall when born. Life span for a giraffe is between 20 and 25 years in the wild and up to 28 years in captivity.
This newest addition is one of many rising stars that will help celebrate the Zoo’s upcoming Baby Bonanza event that kicks-off May 2 and 3, 2009. This four month bonanza will showcase some of the cutest babies around including the Zoo’s infant gorilla, two giraffe calves, howler monkey and more. The Zoo invites visitors to bring their babies to see the Zoo’s babies during Baby Bonanza in May, June, July and August at the San Francisco Zoo! Visit the Zoo’s Web site for more details at www.sfzoo.org.