The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the birth of a male reticulated giraffe on January 11. The calf weighs approximately 145 pounds (65.7 kg), is six feet tall (1.82 m), and doing well. Guests riding the Zoo train may see the calf and its mother in the outdoor holding area, pending weather conditions or feeding and health care.
“The neonatal or ‘well baby’ exam has been completed, and the calf is off to a good start,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “The calf was standing on all fours within one hour of the birth and is now walking, sitting, standing and nursing properly. The keepers and animal healthcare staff will continue to monitor the newborn closely.”
This is the second offspring for mom, five-year-old Naomi, since she arrived at Jacksonville Zoo in October 2006. The calf’s father is Duke, the 14-year-old patriarch of the giraffe herd, who has now sired a total of seven offspring since he came to the Zoo in April of 2003. The Zoo now has nine giraffes in its collection and this is the 31st giraffe born there.
In the wild, poaching, human population growth and habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation continue to impact giraffes across the African continent. Current estimates by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation have the giraffe population at less than 80,000 individuals across all subspecies. This is a considerable drop in the last decade, where, in 1999, it was estimated by the IUCN that there were more like 140,000 giraffes.