Reticulated Giraffe Calf at the SF Zoo
January 28, 2009
This past Monday mama Bititi gave birth to her second calf at the San Francisco Zoo. Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months and the female gives birth standing up, a six foot drop for the calf’s grand entrance into the world. Newborn giraffes can be up to six feet tall when born. Life span for a giraffe is between 20 and 25 years in the wild and up to 28 years in captivity.
IT’S A GIRAFFE! BABY BORN AT THE SAN FRANCISCO ZOO
Mother and Baby Doing Well
SAN FRANCISCO (January 26, 2009) – The San Francisco Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a reticulated giraffe calf on Monday morning, January 26, 2009. Bititi (pronounced Bah-Tē-Tē), the proud mom, gave birth between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and is showing strong maternal skills. This is Bititi’s second offspring; Bulldozer, a male giraffe, was born August 11, 2007. Today’s birth marks the fifth calf sired by Floyd at the San Francisco Zoo.
Keepers have been observing mom and calf around the clock, but have not intervened or stepped close enough to determine whether it’s a male or female. The calf is standing on all fours and demonstrates a strong suckle reflex. Bititi is gently nurturing her little one and helping the calf to learn how to nurse with little nudges in the right direction. Animal care staff will keep another female giraffe, Kristin, close by to ensure that Bititi feels supported by the herd.
“We’ve had a bit of a baby bonanza with some significant births over the last few months,” said Tanya Peterson, acting executive director and president of the San Francisco Zoo. “A healthy and successful birth that focuses on the conservation of a species is an incredibly positive experience for everyone at the Zoo.”
Reticulated giraffes are found in Central and South African regions and are the tallest of all living land animal species. There are eight giraffe sub-species and reticulated giraffes are listed as near-threatened. Population of the species continues to decline due to poaching, habitat loss environmental degradation and human encroachment. The San Francisco Zoo is actively participating with the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums’ Population Management Plan to help breed and maintain a strong genetic line for the species.
“The population management plan is a long-term, proactive program that focuses on maintaining the population numbers,” stated Ingrid Russell-White, curator of mammals. “We don’t want to wait until species are at a critical level; we want to help maintain the strength of a population and its genetic line before it reaches that point.”
Zoo veterinary staff and animal care will continue to watch mom and calf throughout the next few days. As long as mom and calf continue to positively progress, the giraffe calf may be on exhibit as early as this weekend.
The giraffe calf will be named by loyal and long-time Zoo supporters Bernard and Barbro Osher. The Oshers are well-respected and strong community leaders and are the Founders of the Bernard Osher Foundation.