A one-day-old female Masai giraffe at the San Diego Zoo had her first medical exam earlier today. Veterinarians and animal care staff covered the newborn’s eyes with a soft towel to keep her calm while they confirmed her sex, checked her eyes, ears, tongue and throat, drew blood to ensure she is nursing properly, and checked her umbilicus for proper healing. Initial results determined the calf is healthy and strong, even though she is still getting used to her long, wobbly legs. The lanky youngster weighed in at 136 pounds and stands 6 feet tall; she may weigh as much as 500 pounds and stand 7 to 7 ½ feet tall by the time she is 6 months old.
After the exam, the youngster ventured around the maternity yard with her doting mother, Bahati. The curious calf interacted with her father, Silver, and other members of the Zoo’s giraffe herd from the protective fencing set up by keepers to separate the newborn and her mother from the herd until the calf is strong enough to venture into the larger habitat and interact with the others.
Bahati gave birth to the calf in the afternoon of May 19 after a three-hour labor under the watchful eyes of her keepers and to the amazement of Zoo guests. The experienced mother immediately began bonding with her calf, and Bahati helped the calf stand just minutes after her introduction to the world.
Masai giraffes, also known as Kilimanjaro giraffes, are the world’s tallest land animals and are native to Kenya and Tanzania. Masai giraffes are the most populous of the giraffe subspecies, but all giraffe populations have decreased from approximately 140,000 in the late 1990s to less than 80,000 today because of habitat loss and competition with livestock for resources. As a result, the future of giraffes is dependent on the quality of habitat that remains. San Diego Zoo Global supports community conservation efforts in Kenya and Uganda that are finding ways for people and wildlife to live together.
This is the 11th calf born to Bahati. Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can see the giraffe calf, yet to be named, on exhibit in the Urban Jungle.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.