Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens on Monday announced the birth of a male Reticulated giraffe calf in the early hours of June 12. His birth marks the 39th giraffe born at the Zoo. Mother, Naomi, has had four previous calves. The Father, Duke (no relation to John Wayne) is famous for being the sire of 15 other little ones. With two infants under a month old in the herd, the Zoo is happily celebrating World Giraffe Day today–June 21.
Keepers came in to find the giraffe calf standing with his mother in the birthing-suite of the giraffe barn last Sunday morning. A review of the tapes showed the birth at 1:27 a.m, with the calf standing and nursing by 3 a.m. According to National Geographic, “Female giraffes give birth standing up. Their young endure a rather rude welcome into the world by falling more than 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the ground at birth. These infants can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers an incredible ten hours after birth.” They live about 25 years in the wild.
Veterinary staff examined the calf early the next morning and determined that it is a boy in good health. He measured 6’4” and weighed 187 pounds. That makes the animal the tallest giraffe calf ever born at the Zoo. After trial introductions to his habitat over the weekend, the calf and mother are now on exhibit with the rest of the herd. By the time he’s an adult his legs alone will be 6 feet tall.
Visitors at the zoo get to interact with giraffes in close proximity, from a large balcony that overlooks their grounds. Giraffes can nuzzle up to visitors, who may feed them under supervision.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will join other zoos and conservation organizations around the world in celebrating World Giraffe Day on June 21. The holiday is always observed on the longest day of the year in a nod to the long necks of the giraffes whose populations are in decline. JZG will have keepers talking to the public about giraffe facts and conservation efforts with funds from the giraffe feedings being donated to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Giraffes are not critically endangered–there are about 90,000 animals in the wild in Africa–but their “numbers have dropped significantly during recent years and shows that giraffe are under a lot of pressure,” according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
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- The Jacksonville Zoo Website