Utah's Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce a six-foot bundle of leggy joy: A baby Giraffe named Willow was born on January 13.
The female calf hit the ground - literally – shortly after noon. Giraffes deliver their babies standing up, so their calves face a four-foot drop as they enter the world. This fall helps to break the umbilical cord and stimulates the baby to breathe. Willow’s mom, 13-year-old Pogo, immediately began licking and cleaning her baby, and Willow stood and nursed within an hour of her birth.
Keepers estimate that Willow stood about six feet tall and weighed about 125 pounds at birth. Willow is the 17th Giraffe born at the Hogle Zoo.
The other Giraffes in the zoo’s herd are very interested in the new baby. Willow’s father, 12-year-old Riley, leans over the wall of a neighboring stall to sniff her. The other female Giraffes, who act as “aunties,” lick and sniff the newcomer as well.
Wild Giraffes live only in Africa, where they inhabit grasslands and savannahs. Until recently, Giraffe populations were thought to be stable, but scientists now know that their numbers have fallen dramatically in the last few decades. As humans convert formerly wild lands to pastures and farms, wild animals have fewer places to live. For large animals like Giraffes, loss of habitat is a significant threat to their survival.