The Virginia Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a baby Masai Giraffe on July 23. The yet-to-be-named male calf was born to five-time mother Imara and father Billy. At birth, the calf weighed in at 152 pounds and measured in at 75 inches tall.
Giraffes give birth standing up, so newborns get an abrupt introduction to the world by dropping up to 6 feet to the ground. The baby could stand and walk within the first few hours after birth.
Zoo staff are monitoring the baby’s health and will keep the public posted on the baby’s well being. “We are keeping a close watch on mom and baby,” said Dr. Amanda Guthrie. “So far the baby looks healthy, Imara is an experienced and attentive mother and we’re optimistic that she’ll do a great job.”
Under the watchful eye of mother Imara, the baby giraffe will begin to explore his surroundings in the upcoming weeks. Visitors to the indoor giraffe exhibit might catch a glimpse of mom and baby. For those who can’t make a trip to the Virginia Zoo, a “Giraffe Cam” has been set-up in their living quarters.
Check out the Giraffe Cam on the Zoo’s website and see what the new calf is up to: http://virginiazoo.org/animals-plants/animals/mammals/animal-cams/giraffe-cam/
This birth is a significant contribution to the North American population of Masai Giraffe, as there are only a little over 100 in North America. “This birth is important to the Species Survival Plan (SSP) as Billy, the father, is a genetically important male for the species,” commented Joseph Svoke, Zoological Manager. The Virginia Zoo is committed to these large and charismatic species, from captive management to field conservation.
Masai Giraffe are the largest subspecies of giraffe and the tallest land mammal on Earth. They are native to Kenya and Tanzania and are characterized by their jagged spots. Males reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and females grow to 14 feet tall. Giraffes may bear one offspring, after a 15-month gestation period. When a giraffe baby is born, it comes into the world front feet first, followed by the head, neck, and shoulders. Newborn giraffes can stand and walk within one hour of birth. They can also eat leaves at the age of four months, but they will continue to nurse until they are 6 to 9 months old.