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Masai Giraffe Calf Is Latest Arrival At Virginia Zoo

Virginia Zoo Photo 3

The Virginia Zoo welcomed a 141-pound, six-foot-tall female Masai Giraffe calf on May 20, 2019. This is the sixth calf to be born to mom Imara and seventh for dad Billy.

Virginia Zoo Photo 1
Virginia Zoo Photo 1
Virginia Zoo Photo 1Photo Credit: Virginia Zoo

The calf was standing within two hours of birth and has been observed by Animal Care Staff nursing from Imara. The experienced mom is taking great care of the newborn, and the two have been spending time together indoors, with optional access to an outdoor yard.  It’s important for mom and baby to bond during the calf's first few weeks of life.

Billy and the Zoo’s other adult female, Noelle, are very interested in the new arrival.

As of press time, the calf does not yet have a name. The naming rights were auctioned off for $5,000 at the Virginia Zoo’s annual fundraiser on June 1. Watch the Virginia Zoo’s social media feeds for an announcement of the name next week.

Masai Giraffe are the largest subspecies of Giraffe and the tallest land mammals on Earth. They are native to Kenya and Tanzania and are characterized by their jagged spots. Males reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and females grow to 14 feet tall. Giraffes may bear one offspring after a 15-month gestation period. When a Giraffe baby is born, it comes into the world front feet first, followed by the head, neck, and shoulders. Newborn Giraffes can stand and walk within one hour of birth. They begin to eat leaves at the age of four months but continue to nurse until they are six to nine months old.

Giraffes are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their population has fallen by about 40% across Africa and the species is no longer found in many parts of its historic range.