Just two days ago on January 25, this female giraffe was born at Burgers’ Zoo in The Netherlands. The baby is named Annelieke, but the zoo staff has already nicknamed her Lieke.
Female giraffes give birth standing up. The baby emerges front feet first, followed by the nose, head, neck, body, and hindquarters. The baby drops about six feet to the ground and within minutes, struggles to stand up. With encouraging licks from mom’s 18-inch-long tongue, the baby eventually stands upright on wobbly legs – at least for a few seconds! Zoo staffers rarely assists in giraffe births, and most babies stand and nurse successfully within the first few hours of life.
Why the hurry to get the baby on its feet? In the wild, baby giraffes are easy prey for hungry lions and hyenas. The sooner the baby can walk and follow the herd, the better.
There are nine subspecies of giraffes, with each found in fragmented populations across central, eastern, and southern Africa.