February 01, 2009
Baby giraffes galore this month, with the latest born at the Houston Zoo. This baby Masai Giraffe is being hand reared by keepers because the mother does not produce enough milk to feed the baby on her own. The affectionate little calf is exceptionally adorable.
He’s very tall and very cute and brand new. Early Friday morning, January 30 the Houston Zoo welcomed the birth of a bouncing baby boy Masai giraffe. “He was born around 6:30 a.m. and by 7:50 a.m. he was standing on his own,” said Houston Zoo Supervisor Laurie McGivern. “He’s 69 and a half inches tall and weighs 110 pounds. He’s has all the appearances of a strong and healthy boy,” said McGivern.
The as yet unnamed baby is being hand reared by Houston Zoo giraffe keepers. “Noel is a gentle, attentive and good mother but doesn’t make enough milk to nurse and raise her calves,” said McGivern. “So, the keeper staff will bottle feed the calf for at least six months,” added McGivern. “His primary keepers have a 24 hour watch and feeding schedule in place to ensure he gets the best care and attention. Initially the calf’s diet will consist of bovine colostrum mixed with goat’s milk. But in a day or so we will switch to goat’s milk mixed with a little bit of water,” said McGivern.
Noel’s newborn will be on view at the Houston Zoo giraffe exhibit. “When the calf is in his barn stall Zoo guests can view him through the stall window at the rear of the giraffe exhibit,” said McGivern. “The staff will also be presenting Meet the Keeper Talks with the baby at various times during the day,” added McGivern. Presentation times will vary. Zoo guests are encouraged to visit the Zoo’s Web site at Houston Zoo - Family Fun and Educational Experience in Houston, Texas for the Meet the Keeper Talk schedules at the giraffe exhibit.
Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animal. The average male giraffe can reach a height of about 17 feet tall and can weight up to 3,000 pounds. The average female giraffe can reach a height of 15 feet tall. The average gestation period for Masai giraffes is 14 months.
While they are not threatened or endangered in their native habitat, there are only 87 Masai giraffes in North American Zoos. Giraffe breeding at the Houston zoo follows guidelines established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Population Management Plan (PMP) program. PMPs have been developed for selected groups of animals to manage breeding of zoo populations in order to maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable.