Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado welcomed the latest addition to their Reticulated Giraffe herd, a female calf born Thursday morning, August 1. The calf is four-year-old Msitu’s (pronounced mi-see-TOO) first offspring and is the second calf to be sired by the Zoo’s five-year-old bull giraffe, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED). Mother and newborn are doing well. Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will be named after she is 30 days old.
“Watching a giraffe birth is amazing and startling all at the same time,” says Amy Schilz, lead animal keeper for giraffes and lions. “Giraffes give birth standing up, so their baby enters the world with a six foot fall to the ground. They need that fall to stimulate them to start breathing, but it still makes you hold your breath when they drop.”
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Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Eric Klaphake monitored the birth process and watched the calf for several hours following her arrival. He reported that everything went smoothly for both mother and calf. The new addition was on her feet and nursing from mom within an hour after her birth-- a good indicator that she is healthy and strong. Zoo veterinarians will remain hands-off as long as she continues to appear in good condition.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is home to the world’s most prolific captive Reticulated Giraffe herd, with 198 births at the Zoo since 1954. Guests can get up close and hand-feed them on special indoor and outdoor elevated platforms. Mother and calf can be viewed for the next few weeks in the north giraffe yard in the zoo's African Rift Valley exhibit. In inclement weather, they will be in the giraffe building.