Rare Giraffe Calf Surprises Keepers at Zoo Basel

Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_mutter_sophie_ZOB0584When keepers arrived at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel in the early morning on April 1, they were greeted by a brand-new arrival:  female Giraffe Sophie had just delivered a healthy baby boy!

Kordofan_giraffe_majengo_vater_xamburu_ZOB0966Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

A video camera installed in the barn revealed that Sophie became restless at about 4:45 AM and kept looking at her belly.  After just a few hours of labor, her calf was born at 7:10 AM.  Another female Giraffe, named Kianga, was present during the birth and the calf’s father, Xamburu, looked on.  Though both were very interested in the new arrival, Sophie would not allow them to get too close.

The calf, named Majengo, easily walked onto a scale later in the day and weighed in at 123 pounds.  He stood about six feet tall.  For now, Majengo gets most of his nourishment by nursing, but he has already nibbled on leaves and alfalfa hay.

The Giraffes at Zoo Basel are members of a rare subspecies known as the Kordofan Giraffe.  Found in southern Chad, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kodofan Giraffes inhabit some of Africa’s most hostile regions.  Only about 3,000 Kordofan Giraffes are thought to remain in the wild.  They can be distinguished from other Giraffe subspecies by their pale spots.

See more photos of the rare calf below.

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Isn't She Lovely?

A female Reticulated Giraffe born at the Buffalo Zoo has been named Zuri, which means “lovely” or “beautiful” in Swahili.

IMG_8348Photo Credit:  Buffalo Zoo

Zuri was born on February 21 to 20-year-old Agnes and 3-year-old Moke.  Giraffe mothers deliver their babies standing up, and the babies typically stand on their own within an hour of birth.

Giraffes are pregnant for around 15 months, and calves usually stay with their mothers for nearly two years. 

On Africa’s plains and grasslands, Giraffe populations have fallen by nearly half since 1999 to about 80,000 animals today. (This figure includes all nine subspecies of Giraffes.)  However, as a species, Giraffes are not listed as Endangered – rather, they are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Reticulated Giraffes, native to Kenya, number less than 5,000.   The world’s tallest animals face threats from disease, human encroachment, and illegal hunting.  

See more photos of Zuri below.


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L.A. Zoo Loves Leo the Giraffe Calf

Giraffe Baby Leo JEP_6871[1]The Los Angeles Zoo welcomed a male Masai Giraffe calf, on November 20th

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Giraffe Baby Leo JEP_9090[1]

Photo Credits: Los Angeles Zoo

The calf was born to six-year-old mother ‘Hasina’, and 18-year-old father, ‘Artemus’. This is the second calf for Hasina, who came from the San Diego Zoo in 2010.

This is a birth the L.A. Zoo is thankful for, as the population of giraffes across the African continent is drastically declining due to hunting and habitat loss.

A Los Angeles area couple also felt a connection to the baby giraffe, and they made the decision to ‘adopt’ the baby and chose to name him ‘Leo’. In making a significant gift to the Zoo’s animal acquisition fund, which promotes vital wildlife preservation and breeding projects locally and around the world, donors Patricia and Stanley Silver chose to name the baby giraffe after Mrs. Silver’s late father, Leo Guthman.

Leo can now be seen on exhibit with the other giraffes daily, weather permitting.

Long, Tall Baby Born at Planckendael

10959667_871843349524570_4741286656375262046_nPlanckendael Zoo, in Belgium, recently witnessed the birth of the largest animal ever born at the zoo.




Photo Credits: Planckendael

On February 7th, ‘Diamond’ gave birth to a boy who measured just a little over 6 ½ feet! Mother and baby are doing well, and the newcomer is fitting right in with the rest of the herd at the zoo.

(More great photos, below the fold!)

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Meet Jacksonville Zoo’s Photogenic Giraffe Calf


The New Year started off amazing for Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, in Florida! On January 17th, the zoo welcomed a 193 pound female Reticulated Giraffe. 


10931697_10153109864863336_1786564894065325151_oPhoto Credits: Brittney Hendricks 

The calf stood 6 ft. 2 inches, at birth. She has been on exhibit, enjoying becoming acquainted with the rest of the zoo’s young giraffes. Proud parents of the new girl are ‘Naomi’ and ‘Duke’. 

Giraffes are the tallest animals on earth and can reach a maximum height of 18 feet. Both males and females have horns, and each animal has unique markings that grow darker with age. In the wild, giraffes can live up to 25 years, and they have been known to live as long as 28 years, in captivity.

In the wild, they prefer to eat leaves and shoots of trees. However, in zoos, they are fed alfalfa hay, grain, browse, fruits, and vegetables.

Observations in the wild indicate that they lie down only 5-6 hours per night. During most of this time, the animals remain alert with their necks erect and their eyes alternately opened and closed. Giraffes may go into a deep sleep for just 5 minutes each night. During deep sleep a giraffe bends its neck backward in an arch and rests its head behind its back legs or on an extended back leg.

The gestation period for giraffes is about 15 months. Breeding can occur throughout the year and a single calf is born, rarely twins. Calves are usually 6 feet tall and can stand up 20 minutes after birth. Females are excellent mothers and defend their calves vigorously. In the wild, lions are the principal predators of calves, although hyenas, leopards and even wild dogs may also kill newborns up to three months of age. Male calves are weaned at approximately 15 months. Female calves are weaned a couple of months later. There is no difference in the mortality rate between male and female calves.

Jacksonville Zoo acquired their first giraffe, a male named ‘Long John’, in December 1957.

Baby Giraffe Being Raised By Zoo Keepers

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A Rothschild’s Giraffe born at the United Kingdom’s Paignton Zoo on January 11 is thriving under the care of zoo keepers after her mother rejected her.

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2015 01 PZ giraffe 2Photo Credit:  Miriam Haas/Paignton Zoo  

Keepers are not sure why the mother, Janica, refused to care for her female calf, which has been named Eliska, but they have wholeheartedly taken on the daunting task of caring for a six-foot-tall baby who drinks up to two gallons of milk a day.

Senior head keeper of mammals Matthew Webb, who has been helping to feed Eliska, said, “She will take in around 10% of her body weight in milk each day and gain weight just as quickly. She was 63 kilos (139 pounds) at birth, but as she grows, so will her milk requirements.”

Luckily, a local organic dairy farm has offered to supply the zoo with milk as long as Eliska needs it.  Eliska is fed four times a day and could need milk for up to nine months.  She will begin weaning at around five to six months of age. 

As soon as possible, keepers plan to introduce Eliska to the rest of the herd.  This is an important step and will ensure that Eliska knows that she is a Giraffe, not a human.  Paignton Zoo has successfully hand-reared one other Giraffe calf.

Rothschild's Giraffes, also known as Baringo Giraffes, are classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Those living in European zoos are managed by the European Endangered Species Program.

See more photos of the Giraffe calf below.

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Allwetter Zoo Celebrates Giraffe Arrival


Keepers at Allwetter Zoo, in Germany, are excited to share the birth of a Giraffe calf!  The boy was born to eight-year-old mother ‘Makena’ on December 29th.



10934129_10155074005070263_8190822369149622274_oPhoto Credits: Allwetter Zoo

After a gestation period of about 15 months, the male arrived weighing 45 kg (99 lbs.) and measuring 1.70 m (5 ½ feet) tall. This is the third calf for mother, Makena. Although he stays close to his mother, the new calf has had difficulty nursing and requires bottle feeds from zoo staff.

Zoo staff are optimistic that he will continue to grow and progress. He now happily explores his enclosure with his mother and is stronger every day.

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Baby Boom of Giraffes at Lion Country Safari

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As 2014 came to an end, Lion Country Safari, in Florida, welcomed its fifth giraffe birth of the year! 



DSC_0034Photo Credits: Lion Country Safari

On December 30th, a 70-inch, 165-pound baby boy was born. The baby, named ‘Hakuna’, is safe in the maternity pen with his mom and is joined by fellow newborn, ‘Matata’ (born on Dec. 16). They are visible in the drive-through preserve (section 7, HwangeNational Park) or from the giraffe feeding exhibit at Lion Country Safari.  After three months, they will join the entire giraffe herd.

Female giraffe reproduce year-round beginning at about four years of age. Their conception peak is usually during the rainy season and their gestation lasts approximately 15 months. Giraffe calves are born while the mother is in a standing position and they drop to the ground head first. Life expectancy of a giraffe is approximately 25 years.

Lion Country Safari is dedicated to the captive breeding of a number of rare or endangered species and is proud to participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan. This conservation program helps to ensure the survival of selected wildlife species.

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Giraffe Calf Welcomed by Omaha Zoo


Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a female Reticulated Giraffe calf on November 4th. She weighed 138 pounds and was 72 inches tall, at birth.



OmahaHenryDoorlyZoo_GiraffeCalf_4Photo Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

The 15-year-old mother, ‘Dottie’, is taking her motherly duties seriously, and she is very protective of the new calf. The father of the calf is 6-year-old ‘Jawara’, who came to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in August of 2008, from the Brookfield Zoo, in Brookfield, Illinois.

The calf currently weighs 171 pounds and will gain about 3.5 to 4 pounds per day, growing at an enormous rate her first year of life. She will nurse for about four months, and then will begin consuming solid food.

Dottie and her calf can be seen in the indoor exhibit of the Giraffe Complex. They are currently secluded from the rest of the herd, and will be introduced to the others one-by-one. The calf will most likely remain in the zoo’s herd, and will not be transferred to another facility.The zoo recently sponsored a naming contest for the calf, and they will announce the winner on December 10th.

More below the fold!

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Baby Giraffe Gets a Little Boost from Keepers

Audrey, a Masai Giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo, delivered her third calf in four years on November 13.  The baby, a male, arrived less than two hours after keepers observed the onset of labor.


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IMG_7805 copyPhoto Credit:  Santa Barbara Zoo

Most Giraffe calves stand within about an hour of birth.  This calf, named Buttercup by zoo donors, attempted to stand just 15 minutes after birth.  The floor was slippery due to the birth fluids, and keepers decided to step in and help Buttercup get upright.  After they moved him to a drier spot on the floor, the calf got his footing and took his first wobbly steps.

Another indicator of a healthy calf is nursing within a few hours of birth.  Buttercup nursed about two-and-a-half hours after birth. At four days old, Buttercup visited the zoo’s Giraffe exhibit with Audrey, where he met the zoo’s other adult female Giraffe, Betty Lou, and saw the Zoo Train for the first time.

“Our professional staff prepared for and implemented the plan for an easy and healthy birth,” said Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge. “Everything went smoothly, even when Buttercup needed to be moved to a drier spot in order to stand up.”

“Because there are just over one hundred Masai Giraffes in captivity in North America, each birth and each Giraffe is very important,” said Sheri Horiszny, Director of Animal Care. “I’m very proud of our sire Michael, as he’s now clearly a proven breeder, and his genetics greatly help the diversity of our Masai population.”

Betty Lou is also pregnant, and Giraffe keepers estimate that she will give birth in March 2015. The sire in both pregnancies is Michael, the zoo’s only male Giraffe. Giraffes have a 14.5-month gestation period.

Masai Giraffes are the tallest of all Giraffe subspecies and are found in Kenya and Tanzania.  Like all Giraffes, this subspecies is declining in the wild due to loss of habitat. Conservation programs hold the key to survival for all wild Giraffes.

See more pictures of Buttercup below.

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