Peoria Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a Reticulated Giraffe. The male calf was born July 25 to mother, Vivian, and father, Taji.
A neonatal exam was done shortly after the birth, and the calf weighed in at 102.5 lbs. and measured 5’4” tall.
In preparation for the birth, Zoo staff modified an off-exhibit stall to offer a secure, quiet, and soft place for the expectant mother and calf. A video camera was installed in the stall so staff could monitor the mother and calf 24/7.
On the day of the calf’s birth, Kim Scott, Curator of Animals, checked the remote camera at 2am. She recalled, “Everything was so calm I just knew it would be the same the next time. I have never woken up as fast as I did at 4am when Vivian turned and I saw 2 hooves sticking out.”
Although three staff members reported to the Zoo within 20 minutes, the calf was born before any arrived. Roz Wolfram, Primary Giraffe Keeper, said, “I can’t believe what an awesome mom Vivian is being.”
Breeding at the Peoria Zoo was done under recommendation of the Reticulated Giraffe Species Survival Program, which makes an annual transfer and breeding plan to insure a genetically diverse population.
The tower (group of giraffes) at the Zoo is now made-up of four: male Taji (born 2007), female Vivian (born 2009), female Emy (born 2013), and the new male calf, who is yet-to-be-named.
The new calf is currently not on display. According to staff at the Zoo, “We will be introducing the baby to all his ‘firsts’ very slowly and carefully. We will keep you updated on his progress and we will let you know as soon as he is on exhibit.”
Those curious about the young Giraffe can check his progress via updates the Zoo provides on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PeoriaZoo/ and on the Zoo’s website: https: www.peoriazoo.org/giraffecalfupdate/
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.