The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens welcomed an exciting addition to the Reticulated Giraffe herd on May 15. The Zoo’s 42nd giraffe calf was born to mother, Naomi.
Many visitors of Jacksonville Zoo will remember that the patriarch of their giraffe herd, Duke, passed away in December 2018 at 21-years-old from age-related degenerative disease. At the time of his death, keepers were hoping that one or two of the females in the herd were pregnant…and they were! The birth of this youngster is a touching tribute to the high-profile bull that was so well known by the Jacksonville community. This special calf is Duke’s 18th offspring.
“The arrival of our beloved Duke’s son is an especially moving way to honor his amazing legacy. We’re all looking forward to watching this little guy grow and develop,” shared Dan Maloney, Deputy Zoo Director.
On the day of the calf’s birth, keepers monitoring the overnight cameras noticed birth activity around 4:30am, so they rushed to the Zoo to supervise the significant birth and make sure everything progressed smoothly. Zoo staff were also watching when the calf stood up for the first time at 6:20am. Their excitement continued when they saw healthy nursing behavior at 7:11am. According to keepers, Naomi is a calm and experienced mother, with this being her 7th calf.
Veterinary staff examined the calf soon after the birth and determined it to be a boy in good health. He weighed in at 187 lbs. and was nearly 6’4” tall.
Naomi and the calf were allowed to bond behind the scenes after the birth, but they are now on exhibit with the rest of their herd.
More incredible photos, below the fold!