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Birth watch begins for pregnant giraffe Olivia!

 Posted by Gigi Allianic, Communications

Hey soon-to-be-mama, Olivia! Photo by Jeremy Dywer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
Our very pregnant giraffe, Olivia, has been put on 24-hour birth watch after showing signs late last week of approaching labor. The birth window began mid-March and extends until the end of April.

“We’re definitely seeing signs of Olivia nearing labor—we think she’ll give birth any day now,” says Katie Ahl, a lead animal keeper at Woodland Park Zoo. “She’s more restless, there are noticeable changes in her udder, and she’s extending her tail and spreading her rear legs frequently. In addition, she and Dave are showing more affectionate behavior toward one another, a telltale sign of hormonal changes occurring in the expectant mom.”

A pregnant Oliva, right, next to sister Tufani, left. Photo by Jeremy Dywer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
The zoo’s animal care staff are monitoring Olivia closely at the zoo and several times throughout the night via barn cams. Stay tuned to updates at www.zoo.org/giraffe and follow #HaveYouHerd on the zoo’s FacebookInstagram and Twitter channels for the latest news!

The new baby giraffe will mark the first offspring between 12-year-old Olivia and 6-year-old Dave. Olivia had her first baby, Misawa, in 2013.

The last giraffe birth at the zoo was Lulu, born in 2017 to mom Tufani—Olivia’s sister—and dad Dave. Olivia, Dave and Tufani make up the current herd of giraffes at the zoo.

Olivia, with niece Lulu in 2017. Photo by Jeremy Dywer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.
“The giraffe herd still has access to the vast African Savanna habitat and we’ll assess this schedule daily leading up to the birth. Once signs of labor intensify, we’ll keep all of the giraffes in the barn and outdoor corral so we can more closely monitor any behavioral changes. We’re gearing up for the birth and adding extra bedding to the stalls. We can’t wait, we’re very excited to welcome this new baby!” says Ahl.

According to Kim Szawan, an animal care manager at Woodland Park Zoo, giraffes give birth standing up and the calf drops 5 feet to the ground as it is born. Baby giraffes are typically born 6 feet tall and stand within an hour after birth. “The first 24 to 72 hours are critical for newborn giraffes. We want to see the infant nursing shortly after birth and running around with mom several hours later,” explains Szawan. When fully grown, giraffes reach a height of 16 feet tall for females and 18 feet tall for males.

Oliva on the savanna. Photo by Jeremy Dywer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo.

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.

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.

With your support, giraffes like the eight calves who were born in Lake Mburo National Park in Uganda just this last year have a better chance at survival when their habitat is protected. Photo via GCF.
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 zoo.org/conservation to learn more about the zoo’s conservation partnerships taking place in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Adopt a ZooParent giraffe in honor of Olivia and baby. Visit zoo.org/zooparent.

Comments

  1. You all need a live cam and you can generate some money to help your zoo at the same time

    ReplyDelete
  2. Would love to watch her live just like April. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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