A giraffe at the Dallas Zoo has given birth to her third calf in six years, the first since the untimely death of 3-month-old Kipenzi in 2015.
After about an hour of labor, and with little fanfare, mother reticulated giraffe Katie gave birth Tuesday in a maternity stall to her first baby boy.
The calf, who is almost 6 feet tall and weighs about 150 pounds, will be named at a later date by the zoo's giraffe team.
"Katie and the new calf are doing well, following a textbook labor and delivery on Tuesday afternoon. The calf has spent his first few days learning how to nurse and following mom around their area. Several of the zoo’s other female giraffes have been peeking their heads over the maternity stall walls to get their first look at the baby’s initial milestone moments," the zoo said in a news release Friday.
The zoo said the calf will be introduced to Uncle Auggie first, the zoo's oldest and most patient giraffe. After that, he'll meet the rest of the herd.
“We consider ourselves so lucky to get to welcome this (big) little guy to the world here at the Dallas Zoo,” said Harrison Edell, the Dallas Zoo’s vice president of animal operations and welfare. “Katie brought this calf into the world like a pro, and we continue to be amazed at how quickly this baby giraffe is taking to his surroundings and learning his way with Katie there to guide him.”
The birth is the third for 9-year-old Katie. She first delivered Jamie in July 2011, followed by Kipenzi in May 2015. The latter delivery was broadcast on Animal Planet and before an audience of about 4 million who watched the birth live online.
Kipenzi died three months after her birth when she turned sharply into an enclosure wall in the Giants of the Savanna habitat. The zoo told our partners at The Dallas Morning News it plans to baby-proof the habitat by adding barriers around the perimeter, making the fencing more obvious.
Katie, like the other giraffes at the Dallas Zoo, are reticulated giraffes. The zoo says only about 4,700 reticulated giraffs are left in the world and that the species is "vulnerable" to extinction.
"Over the last three decades, the giraffe population has suffered a nearly 40 percent drop due to human encroachment, poaching and habitat loss. It is believe there are fewer than 97,000 individuals in the wild – numbers that make giraffes scarcer than African elephants," according to the zoo.
“Welcoming this baby giraffe to the Dallas Zoo is yet another milestone in what has been a very exciting year for us,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo’s president and CEO. “We look forward to sharing the adorable awkwardness and cute baby face of the giraffe calf with our visitors. But we also want our guests to know how critical a role accredited zoos have in conservation efforts, as we try to help maintain the species’ existence given the numbers in the wild are diminishing so rapidly.”
In a statement about the birth Friday, the zoo said they proudly support "the Reticulated Giraffe Project and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) by funding efforts to monitor giraffes and remove snares in Uganda. The zoo also helps GCF raise anti-poaching awareness in African communities."
To keep up with the latest developments with Katie and the new giraffe calf, including answers to the most frequently asked questions about mom and baby, visit ZooHoo.DallasZoo.com, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.