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Signs of a growing giraffe calf

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications

The giraffe calf has grown nearly a foot since his birth 3 weeks ago, towering in at just about 7 feet tall now. But there’s another tell-tale sign of growth to look for: the formation of the calf’s ossicones.

Notice mom’s fully formed ossicones and the little ones just starting to take shape on baby’s head. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Ossicones are the horn-like protuberances giraffes sport on their heads. They are formed from ossified cartilage (cartilage that has transformed into bone) and covered in skin and fur. Remember what looked like a little tuft of hair on baby when he was first born?

One-day-old giraffe with flat ossicones. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Those were his little ossicones, all flat and barely developed. But over the weeks they have begun to harden. You can see in these pictures at one-week-old how the ossicones are beginning to take shape.

One-week-old ossicones, the profile view. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

One-week-old ossicones, the front view. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Ultimately, they’ll stand tall and strong on his head as he matures, a sparring weapon handy for competing with other males for food or perhaps a mate.

The growing boy. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

The calf's budding ossicones hint at all that is ahead for him in the future. Treasure these early days—he may be as tall as 18 feet before you know it.

Video: 15 minutes of quality time with the 3-week-old giraffe, taken from the live web cam 8/28/2013.

If you haven’t visited the giraffe family yet, afternoons are a good time to look for them in the outside area of the Giraffe Barn. You can also tune into the live web cam streaming from inside the Giraffe Barn between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. daily. To show your giraffe love, adopt one today through our ZooParent program. Your adoption will help fund the daily care of giraffes and other zoo animals, and $5 of your adoption will go straight to our field conservation efforts around the world.


ninaf said…
And an up close view of mama peeing. :)
Anonymous said…
How does get to be friends with Dennis or Ryan? I ve taken 300 photos of this "little" guy and I ll be darned that fence is killing great photos
Anonymous said…
What is his name??
Anonymous said…