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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A tall order: Olivia the giraffe is expecting!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

We have some very exciting news! Our 12-year-old giraffe Olivia is expecting her second baby this spring. Olivia's birth window is mid-March into late April.

Olivia!


Tufani with baby Lulu in 2017.
This baby giraffe will mark the first offspring between Olivia and 6-year-old Dave. Olivia had her first baby, Misawa, in 2013 with Chioke, who passed away that same year. Their offspring, Misawa, stole our hearts with his adorably grumpy face. In  2017 Olivia’s sister Tufani gave birth to #SeattlesTallestBaby Lulu (Dave was the father). Olivia, Dave and Tufani make up our current herd of giraffes until this new baby arrives in spring 2019.

“Now that Olivia’s in her third trimester, we’re seeing more signs of a pregnancy such as weight gain and a rounder belly. Judging by the size of her belly, combined with fecal testing results, our guess is that Olivia will give birth in mid-April,” says Katie Ahl, our expert giraffe doula and lead animal keeper. “We’ll continue to monitor Olivia closely and watch for telltale signs of labor, which may include restlessness, loss of appetite, or biting or licking her flanks.”

Olivia and Dave on the savanna.
As part of our animal welfare program, the animal care and veterinary staff will increase Olivia's diet as needed and do regular veterinary check-ups leading up to the birth, explains Martin Ramirez, mammal curator. “At the first sign of labor, we’ll bring Olivia into the barn and implement a 24-hour birth watch, with an animal care and health team monitoring the birth. A barn cam will allow us to monitor the new family throughout the birth watch, during the birth and post-birth,” explains Martin.

Giraffes give birth standing up and the calf drops 5 feet to the ground as it is born. It might sound rough, but they'll stand up and nurse just several hours later. Baby giraffes are typically born 6 feet tall and generally stand within an hour after birth. “The first 24 to 72 hours are critical for newborn giraffes. A healthy infant should begin nursing shortly after birth and be able to run around with its mom several hours later.” says Martin. When fully grown, giraffes reach a height of 16 feet tall for females and 18 feet tall for males.

Misawa spies on us from his giraffe wall in 2013.

“Sharing two healthy baby giraffes with our community over the last five years has been very rewarding, and we’re just as excited for this new giraffe to make its entry into the world,” says Katie. “Baby giraffes have a way of stopping your heart a beat or two because they’re so magical. Every giraffe is a precious ambassador for their kin in their natural range. They have the power to spark a connection and move people to take action to help preserve giraffes into the future. We hope our guests and community will come to love this giraffe and care about saving giraffes as much as we do.

The expectant parents, Olivia and Dave, were paired under a breeding recommendation made by the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of giraffes. Woodland Park Zoo participates in 111 Species Survival Plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, and genetics, these plans also involve a variety of other collaborative conservation activities such as research, public education, reintroduction and field projects.

Everyone enjoys a sunny fall day on the savanna.
Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. New population surveys estimate an overall 40 percent decline in the giraffe population; fewer than 100,000 exist today. Of the currently recognized subspecies of giraffe, five have decreasing populations, while three are increasing and one is stable.

Giraffe enthusiasts can stick their necks out for giraffes and help support conservation efforts by visiting Woodland Park Zoo and supporting the Wildlife Survival Program, which includes the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The Foundation seeks to provide the first long-term ecological monitoring effort of the Angolan giraffe—an important desert-dwelling giraffe subspecies in north-western Namibia. Visit http://www.zoo.org/conservation to learn more about the zoo’s conservation partnerships taking place in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

We'll keep you posted here with any new developments or updates because we know you will be very excited to follow along on Olivia's pregnancy. Thank you for loving baby giraffes as much as we do!

Olivia with her niece Lulu in 2017.
ZooParent adoptions make pretty sweet surprise for any animal lover! www.zoo.org/zooparent
Adopt a giraffe to celebrate: Celebrate Olivia's pregnancy with a soft, cuddly giraffe plush with a mission for conservation. This little cutie will remind you that you are committed to a future where giraffes are thriving. ZooParent adoptions start at $50.

4 comments:

  1. This is so exciting! I and the FB group I belong to, Every Giraffe Has a Story, are looking forward to Olivia's delivery of a new calf. Our group is focused on conservation and education. Some of our members are Zoo Owners and Zookeepers. We write short stories about individual giraffae residing at zoos in the US and around the world, currently England and Australia, with the help of our team of researchers.
    Will you have a live cam event when Olivia delivers? I know some would be interested in watching if you do.

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  2. So Dave will have fathered offspring with two sisters, Tufani (2017) and now Olivia! Dave you DEVIL!

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    1. Dave is only 6 years old too!! ;)
      Here is my question. If Olivia is 12 years old and Dave is 6 years old, does that make Olivia a cougar??

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  3. YAAAAAY! Olivia is lovely, and Dave is my favorite animal at the zoo. He was so sweet and gentle with Lulu. It will be fun to see how he is with the new arrival!

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