The Milwaukee County Zoo is proud to announce the September 16th birth of a male Reticulated Giraffe. The last giraffe birth at the Zoo was in 2003.
The newest calf was born to first-time mom, Ziggy, and first-time dad, Bahatika. On September 17th, veterinarians completed the calf’s first exam, and they recorded a weight of 157 pounds and a height of 5 feet 9 inches tall. Zookeepers have been monitoring mother and baby; Ziggy has been very attentive to the calf, which is nursing regularly.
Five-year-old Ziggy arrived at the Milwaukee County Zoo, in 2013, from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Dad Bahatika is 10 years old and arrived at the Zoo, in 2006, from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.
The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), also known as the Somali Giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to savannas of Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. Reticulated Giraffes can interbreed with other giraffe subspecies in captivity or if they come into contact with populations of other subspecies in the wild.
The Reticulated Giraffe is among the most well-known of the nine giraffe subspecies. Together with the Rothschild Giraffe, it is the type most commonly seen in zoos. They are known to often walk around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tickbirds. The tickbirds eat bugs that live on the giraffe’s coat, and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.
A female has a gestation period of about 15 months and usually has only one young at a time, but a mature female can have around eight offspring in her lifetime. Females return to the same spot each year to give birth. The mother gives birth standing up and the calf falls seven feet to the ground. Calves can weigh up to 200 lbs at birth and stand as tall as six feet. They are able to stand less than an hour after birth. The young are weaned at around one year of age.
In the wild, giraffes have few predators, but they are sometimes preyed upon by lions and less so by crocodiles and spotted hyenas. However, humans are a very real threat, and giraffes are often killed by poachers for their hair and skin. Currently, there are thought to be less than 80,000 giraffes roaming Africa, and some subspecies are thought to be almost completely gone, with fewer than 100 individuals. Reticulated Giraffes are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.