After two decades with no newborn giraffes, Baltimore’s zoo in Druid Hill Park has welcomed two in the last four months.
The newest member of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s reticulated giraffe herd is four days old, six feet tall and weighs more than 140 pounds, according to a release. Staff brought the calf, son to 7-year-old Kesi, into the world early Thursday morning. He was up on his feet within 20 minutes.
Veterinarians and staff quickly noticed he wasn’t nursing, and found in blood work that he was short on antibodies needed to fend off early infections and diseases. Within the day, they began supplementing his diet with a colostrum formula to boost his antibody supply.
Mother and son are now “bonding” in the Giraffe House, which will remain closed until staff think the new guy is ready for the public eye.
“We are cautiously optimistic that his natural instinct to nurse will take over, but we are prepared to supplement his nutritional needs until that happens,” said mammal collection and conservation manager Erin Cantwell in the release. She noted Kesi is “very attentive and protective of him” and is “proving to be an amazing mother.”
The calf still wasn’t nursing on Sunday afternoon, but had put on a couple pounds, according to a Facebook update. Today, a zoo spokeswoman said he lost that weight, so staff transitioned him to bottle feeding while covering his face “to calm him and simulate the sensation he would feel from his mother’s belly overhead while nursing.”
“It often takes time for a calf to latch on to this new skill, so it is a work-in-progress and takes patience,” spokeswoman Jane Ballentine wrote in an email.
The unnamed giraffe baby joins Willow, born in February, as the newest additions to the herd. Their father, Caesar, has been at the zoo since 2008. Kesi came to Baltimore by way of another zoo in Ft. Wayne, Ind., in 2012. She’s joined by Willow’s mother, 4-year-old Juma.
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