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Growing Up Giraffe at New York's Bronx Zoo


Earlier this month, a Baringo giraffe calf made its public debut at the Bronx Zoo’s African Plains. Born on September 14, 2011, James Marjani is the first giraffe calf born at the Bronx Zoo since February 2009. He was approximately six feet tall at birth and estimated to weigh more than 100 pounds. As an adult, he could eventually grow to more than 17 feet and weigh close to 4,000 pounds. The baby was born to mother, Margaret Sukari, and father, James Michael. The Bronx Zoo names all of its giraffes in memory of Mr. and Mrs. James Carter, benefactors for whom the Carter Giraffe Building is named. His birth brings the total number of giraffes in the herd to eight.




Photo credits: Julie Larsen-Maher (c) WCS's Bronx Zoo

In anticipation of the birth, keepers prepared a stall with a heavy layer of straw bedding to help absorb the impact of the calf’s 6-foot drop from his mother. Keepers kept mom and baby separated from the other giraffes for several days to give them time to bond before slowly introducing them to the rest of the herd.

The new calf will be on exhibit intermittently for the first several weeks he adjusts to his new surroundings. Exhibit times will vary.

The gestation period for a giraffe is 14 to 14.5 months and the baby starts walking within the first few hours of birth. The calf will nurse for approximately one year, but will begin sampling solid food when three months old.  Eventually it will transition to a diet of leaves, alfalfa hay, kale, pelleted grain, and produce. Giraffes are the tallest animal in the world and have an 18-inch-long tongue that they use to grasp branches and pull leaves from trees.

Giraffes are native to grasslands, savannas, and open woodlands in central, east, and southern Africa. The Baringo giraffe (aka Rothschild’s giraffe) is found in western Kenya and eastern Uganda. While populations are still robust in many places, the overall trend is a decreasing population. The Wildlife Conservation Society works across the globe and throughout the giraffe’s African range to save wildlife and wild places. WCS is working to protect giraffes in key African landscapes like Zakouma, Chad, Murchison Falls, Uganda, and in the Sahel of South Sudan.