They waited and waited for a long-necked young beauty to show up, and at 8:21 p.m. on August 6 she finally did. A baby-girl giraffe was born at the Detroit Zoo.
It took 12 months, but the new giraffe joined her 1-year-old brother, Mpenzi, as an offspring of 7-year-old mom, Kivuli, and 8-year-old dad, Jabari. Giraffes give birth while standing so it was a 5 ft. drop for the new baby girl, which is enough to break the umbilical cord.
The new girl still has no name, but, unlike human babies, she could take steps after only an hour after birth. She then nursed all night, according to the animal care staff, who witnessed the birth and have monitored mom and baby around the clock.
“This is a wonderful new addition to the Detroit Zoo. The calf is doing great – she has been spending time with mom and is curious about big brother Mpenzi,” says Scott Carter, Detroit Zoological Society chief life sciences officer.
At 166 lbs. and 5 ft. tall, the newborn already rivals some human adults in size. Not a shock given that giraffes are the tallest land mammas. Once she reaches full maturity, she may be up to 18 feet and weigh up to 2,600 pounds.
Giraffe numbers have plummeted in the wild over the last 15 years, down by more than 40 percent from approximately 140,000 to less than 80,000 individuals.
“There is growing conservation concern with wild giraffe populations due to poaching, loss of habitat, and the effects of war and civil unrest across Africa. The Detroit Zoo’s newest giraffe is truly an ambassador for her cousins in the wild,” says Carter.