On September 18, while keepers and zoo guests watched in amazement, 19-year-old Cheka the Giraffe delivered a healthy female calf at Missouri's Dickerson Park Zoo. Covered in dirt after her delivery and with the umbilicus visible on her belly, the six-and-a-half-foot tall baby Giraffe struggled to her feet and took her first wobbly steps within an hour of birth (see video).
The baby Giraffe was named Pammy J. or P.J. by zoo keepers and is the first calf sired by Peperuka, the zoo's bull Giraffe, who arrived in 2011. Pammy J. is Cheka's ninth calf. Three other female Giraffes at Dickerson Park Zoo are pregnant, and all are expected to deliver in the next three to four months.
Giraffes give birth standing up. The calf emerges front feet and nose first, then falls six or more feet to the ground. The mother immediately begins licking the baby, cleaning it and stimulating the newborn to stand. In Giraffes' native African home, it is important that calves stand and walk within an hour to avoid falling prey to a hungry lion.
Photo Credit: Dickerson Park Zoo