Photos by: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
|Standing in front of its mother about 13 hours after birth.|
Woodland Park Zoo’s newest little one is in fact quite big: taller than some of its zookeepers, even! Welcome to the world a 5½-foot-tall giraffe, born to 6-year-old mom Olivia last night, August 6 at 7:03 p.m. The labor lasted about 1.5 hours and the little one was already standing just another 1.5 hours after birth.
|This is the face we've been waiting for!|
Zookeepers were on watch round the clock, and were able to hit record on our video camera just in time to catch the labor begin after a 14- to 15-month gestation period. Olivia wandered in and out of frame, and this video shows the breathtaking moments we were able to catch, from the baby emerging feet first, to its earliest moments after birth, including first efforts at trying to stand.
The calf is standing, nursing from mom and bonding with her, all good signs in these critical first hours. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the new family over the next several weeks to track the calf’s progress.
|Animal care staff will keep an eye on the family to make sure Olivia continues to provide maternal care and the giraffe continues to nurse and grow.|
For the time, they’ll be off view together in the giraffe barn so they can have minimal distractions. But we expect to see the calf follow mom to the outdoor corral of the barn within a week or two, and visitors will be able to see them from there.
|Can you spot the baby?|
Viewing will be sporadic as the family will have the choice to return indoors to the off-view barn—we appreciate your patience! In a few months’ time we’ll introduce the calf to the African Savanna where it will coexist with other wildlife including zebra, oryx and gazelle. Olivia’s sister, 5-year-old Tufani, will also live side by side with the family.
Many of you will remember the calf’s father, Chioke, who passed away in January. Chioke was sweet tempered and a joy to be around—we can only imagine some of that same spirit will live on in our newest little one, big as it may already be!
|The calf's father, Chioke, is remembered for his sweet temper.|
Olivia and Chioke were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan (SSP), a conservation breeding program overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, and genetics, SSPs manage populations in North America to maximize their genetic and demographic diversity with the goal of ensuring their long-term survival. SSPs also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.
With their towering height and big, wide-set searching eyes, giraffes act as the lookout for savanna wildlife in their native Africa. But now it’s our turn to look out for them. The population of giraffes has declined by more than 40% over the past 15 years with current estimates of only 80,000 individuals remaining in Africa. Among the nine subspecies of giraffes, the West African and Rothschild’s are endangered, with fewer than 200 and more than 500, respectively, remaining in the wild. Giraffes face a number of threats including poaching, habitat loss in their feeding ranges, and the soaring human population growth.
People can help preserve these towering animals and their wild places by taking action at home in their everyday lives. Discover a variety of steps to take at home and the workplace that positively impact our planet.
You can also directly fund the care of giraffes and other animals at the zoo by becoming a giraffe ZooParent today, and $5 of your adoption will go straight to our field conservation efforts around the world. Thanks for your support!