The Maryland Zoo’s Baby Giraffe Got Another Plasma Transfusion, Now Back in Intensive Care

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Photo courtesy of Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s youngest giraffe is back in intensive medical care after an alarming change in his blood work.

The zoo on Saturday said Julius’ health had stumbled, with blood tests that day showing signs of “serious concern” for zoo staff. Veterinarians also noticed last week that he’d been shedding some pounds after a couple weeks of gains.

Yesterday, Julius underwent a second giraffe plasma transfusion, supplied by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, according to an update from the zoo’s website. The team of vets and giraffe care specialists is now monitoring the results and continuing to work with the calf on bottle feeding.

Julius’ 25 days on Earth have had their ups and downs. Born at six feet tall and 143 pounds, he didn’t immediately take to nursing form his mother, 7-year-old Kesi. Zoo veterinarians said last month that the lack of feeding from his mother was preventing him from getting important antibodies to boost his immune system and overall health. To assist, zoo staff put him on a supplemental formula diet and transitioned him to bottle feeding, which was working to some degree. Most crucially, they also arranged for his first plasma transfusion, which came from the Columbus Zoo.

Julius’ second transfusion came two days after a touching milestone in which he gathered with both his 5-month-old half-sister, Willow, and his mother in the same room for the first time. Staff had hoped that the social stimulation would provoke him to work up more of an appetite that would help him put on more weight.

Here’s the touching moment captured on film – you’ll notice Willow licking her little brother’s face, which is almost certainly a fond gesture:

Giraffe Calf Julius Meets Herd Mates Willow and Juma

JULIUS UPDATE: Julius, Kesi, Willow, and Juma all together. There are not significant changes to Julius’ health or feeding to report today, but there is a major social change. Julius’ 5-month-old half-sister Willow and her mom Juma have met him before through sight, smell, and even some touch through barriers, but now they are sharing space for the first time inside the Giraffe House (which remains closed to the public).

Giraffes are herd animals by nature, so the introductions went very smoothly. You can even see big sister Willow grooming Julius’ face in this video. Our hope is that this change will not just provide Julius and Kesi additional social stimulation but also potentially encourage Julius to be more active and work up a stronger appetite for his feedings. The giraffe care team continues to watch the results of each adjustment they’re making including this one closely.

Zoo visitors should note that this weekend Willow and Juma may not be viewable on exhibit as they spend more time indoors with Julius and Kesi. Ceasar and Anuli are expected to be outdoors and the Giraffe Feeding Station will be open to giraffe lovers. #TeamJulius

Posted by The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Friday, July 7, 2017

Click here to keep up with news on Julius’ health following his most recent procedure.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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