Things are looking up for the Maryland Zoo’s 10-day-old giraffe calf, and not just because he now has his own moniker.
Zoo staff announced Friday that they’ve named the baby giraffe Julius, a nod to his father, Caesar.
“It means, ‘youthful, downy-bearded,’ both of which he is,” said mammal collection and conservation manager Erin Cantwell in a statement. “We are certainly hoping this name gives him added strength as we continue to provide around-the-clock specialized care for him.”
Julius’ first days on Earth haven’t been easy. Born June 15, the giraffe was able to stand within an hour, but didn’t take to nursing and was found soon after to have low levels of antibodies in his blood, which are necessary to ward off early diseases and infections. Veterinarians opted to put him on formula and arranged for a plasma transfusion from an adult giraffe in Columbus, Ohio.
On Friday, the zoo reported mixed progress, with Julius putting on some weight and drinking a fair share of milk, but also registering still-low antibody levels. This weekend was different, however. An update from last night said Julius put on four more pounds, adding to eight in the previous two days, and showed “solid” results in his blood work and an exam.
“He’s getting stronger everyday,” staff wrote. On Saturday, they described him as feeling “feisty” and showing signs of alertness.
For now, Julius will remain under their watch behind closed doors with his mom, Kesi. His five-month-old half-sister, Willow, and their father can be seen out with the rest of the giraffes enjoying the summer weather in Druid Hill Park. Julius will eventually join them once he’s been introduced to his herd.