There’s a new baby at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium and she’s a bit on the small side.
That’s relative, of course, when the newborn is a giraffe.
Early on the morning of April 16, a female giraffe was born to 19-year-old mother Dottie at the zoo. Dottie is large for a mature female reticulated giraffe, and her past babies with sire Jawara have been big ones, but not this yet-to-be-named calf.
On her second day of life, she weighed in at a dainty 152 pounds, standing about 5½ feet tall. That’s on the low end of the healthy range for giraffe calves. Zookeepers aren’t worried. She’s growing just fine.
“She’s gaining about four pounds a day,” said zoo director Dennis Pate, “considerable weight gain that would make us scared to death about our own health, but for a giraffe that’s going to be 17 feet tall, it’s not a big deal.”
The new calf is on display now in the African Grasslands in a pen with her mother, separate from the rest of the herd. She’ll slowly be integrated in the coming weeks, beginning with her grandmother Daisy.
A crowd gathered Tuesday to meet the calf, who often sits still on her stall floor but occasionally wobbles around and nurses from her mother.
“They’re among the cutest baby animals that you’ll see at the zoo,” Pate said. “They’re a miniature of the grown-ups.”
Some zoos livestream animal births, most notably the viral giraffe named April at the Animal Adventure Park in New York. Pate said the zoo has elected not to do birth cams because the footage can be boring, there could be complications with birth and the zookeepers don’t always know when an animal is expecting.
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“We hate to build up too much expectation,” he said. “If something goes wrong, it creates a lot of disappointment. It’s not to say that we’re not open to it.”
Although the calf is just a week old, Pate said zookeepers are already noticing her personality emerging. She’s much more curious than other giraffe calves, he said, and she likes to look around her exhibit and lick her keepers.
The zoo plans to solicit names for the calf on the zoo’s Facebook page with a naming contest that begins Friday and ends May 10. A winning name will be chosen by her zookeepers and announced on Facebook on Endangered Species Day, May 17.