Few species can boast a 6-foot tall week-old infant, but the Rothschild's Giraffe is certainly one of them! Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo welcomed the addition of a towering Rothschild's Giraffe calf on the evening of August 6. Born to first time mom Olivia, the calf was already 5 and a half feet tall at birth. The calf, who is male, can expect to grow to between 16-18 feet by the time he reaches adulthood.
The calf and its mother are off view in a barn to allow a quet environment for maternal bonding and nursing. Giraffe's have a 14- to 15- month gestation period, which allows for calves to grown so large in size. Mom's give birth standing up, and calves are typically able to stand within a few hours of birth.. “The first 24 to 72 hours are critical for giraffe calves,” said zoo curator Martin Ramirez. “So far, mother and calf are bonding and nursing sessions appear to be normal. We will continue to keep a close eye on the new family over the next several weeks.”
Olivia and the calf's father, Chioke, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, which ensures genetic diversity and demographic stability in North American zoos. The natural population of giraffes has declined by more thant 40% over the past 15 years. Among the 9 subspecies of Giraffes, West African and Rothschild's are endangered. Fewer than 670 individuals of Rothschild's Giraffes remain in the wild.