A very tall baby has joined the diverse clan of wildlife in the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s African Journey section.
Ten days ago, the zoo welcomed a newborn female reticulated giraffe, the first one born at the zoo in two decades. She’s by no means tiny, clocking in at six feet, one inch and 125 pounds during her first veterinary exam. This is to be expected, however, for the tallest species of giraffe in the world.
“All signs so far indicate we have a very healthy and strong female calf,” said the zoo’s associate veterinarian, Samantha Sander, in a release. Zoo staff said the baby giraffe stood on her own within her first hour.
The calf’s parents are 4-year-old Juma and 11-year-old Caesar. Juma gave birth to her daughter just after 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6.
Erin Cantwell, the zoo’s mammal collection and conservation manager, said in the announcement that Juma has been an excellent mother so far. “She is very attentive and has been very patient with the calf as she learns to nurse,” Cantwell said. “Mother and calf are bonding well and appear to be settling into their new routine with ease.”
Reticulated giraffe are native to eastern, central and southern Africa and feed on leaves from high-up trees. Their favorite is the acacia, according to the Maryland Zoo.
Last December, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature placed the reticulated giraffe and eight other giraffe sub-species on its “red list” of endangered and threatened animals. Since 1985, giraffe populations have declined 36 to 40 percent overall, due in part to illegal hunting, expanding agriculture and mining, increasing human-wildlife conflict and civil unrest in their habitats, according to the IUCN.
These circumstances add some significance to the birth of the yet-unnamed calf here in Baltimore.
Juma and her daughter will be secluded from the public eye until the newborn giraffe settles in with the rest of her herd, the zoo said. However, staff are seeking help with the important task of naming her. To do so and to keep track of her progress, check the Maryland Zoo’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
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