On April 10th, the birth of a female Giraffe calf, at the Dallas Zoo, caught the attention of animal-lovers worldwide after the Zoo and Animal Planet launched the joint project, GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE CAM, to show the birth on the Animal Planet L!VE streaming video site.
Online viewers have so far watched over 2 million video streams since the cameras launched. Many viewers tuned in after Animal Planet aired the birth live on-air, narrated by the Dallas Zoo’s Harrison Edell, the senior director of living collections. A Mother’s Day Special will air on Animal Planet, this Sunday May 10th, at 9am Eastern. You can also catch replay of highlights from the event on the Animal Planet L!VE webpage, at the following links: http://www.apl.tv/giraffe-birth-live.htm and at http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/giraffe-birth-live/videos/giraffe-birth-live-highlights/?_ga=1.38708640.2028738701.1431005825
Giraffe mom, ‘Katie’, went into labor just before 5 pm April 10 and delivered the healthy calf less than an hour later. During the live broadcast, Mr. Edell calmly took viewers through the drama of the live birth, describing the events, checking in with the zoo’s veterinary team and teaching about the threats the magnificent animals face in the wild. Mirroring viewers’ excitement, he captured the staff’s elation during milestones such as: when the calf opened its eyes, tried several times to stand, began to walk, and began to nurse. One of the most popular moments, during the live broadcast, was when the other members of the zoo’s Giraffe herd poked their heads over the wall of the maternity stall to check in on the birth.
“We love having this type of platform to share this incredible event,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and chief executive officer. “To be able to share this with so many people around the world is very special. We couldn’t be prouder of our staff and, of course, of Katie!”
The calf’s father is ‘Tebogo’, one of the most popular Giraffes at the Dallas Zoo. Katie has one previous calf, ‘Jamie’, who was born in 2011. Jamie remains with the 13-member Dallas Zoo herd, which roams the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. The Dallas Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to allow Giraffes and Elephants to mingle with each other, alongside Zebra, Impala, Guinea Fowl and other African species.
On April 24th, after seven days of voting by fans of the Dallas Zoo, Katie’s famous calf was named ‘Kipenzi’ (kih-PEHN-zee), meaning “loved one” in Swahili.
“We’re elated that the world chose Katie’s calf to be named ‘Kipenzi,’” said Gregg Hudson. “Since so many folks asked for the baby to be named after their loved ones, we knew this name would genuinely honor the spirit of those requests.”
The baby was gently introduced to the outdoor feeding yard habitat. The Giraffe keepers, at Dallas Zoo, will keep a close eye on the wind and rain, common during this season in Texas, to ensure the she remains safe and healthy.
Kipenzi will be slowly introduced to all members of the herd, including 5-month-old half-brother, Kopano, and 4-year-old sister, Jamie. Kipenzi has gained more than 30 pounds since birth and stands more than 6 feet tall. In the feed yard, she will join mom Katie and the only other Giraffe she’s met so far, “Uncle Auggie.” Auggie is the zoo’s oldest and most patient Giraffe and does the best around new calves.
This remarkable birth also has allowed the Dallas Zoo to raise money for wildlife conservation. A friend of the zoo has agreed to match any donations made in the baby’s honor, up to $25,000. All donations will go directly to help rescue and support threatened wildlife in Africa, including giraffes.