Omaha, Neb. (Nov. 30, 2017) – Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a female giraffe calf on Tuesday, Nov. 28. This is the first calf to mother Layla, a seven-year-old female reticulated giraffe. The calf’s father is 16-year-old Sam. This is the second giraffe calf born at the Zoo this year. Malcom was born on April 30.
The giraffe began laboring around 8 a.m. with the first hoof present at 8:40 a.m. By 10:36 a.m. the calf’s front hooves and face were exposed almost completely. Following some pushing, the calf was born at approximately 11:23 a.m. Layla helped the calf stand shortly after birth. By 12:16 p.m. the calf was standing on its own. Giraffe keepers stayed with the new mom and calf until it began nursing around 7:13 p.m. The calf is nursing regularly, and both mom and baby are doing well.
The calf’s height and weight are unknown at this time, but Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will post updates to the Zoo’s social channels. Layla and the calf are viewable to Zoo guests in the Giraffe Herd Rooms in a separate area before they will be introduced to the rest of the herd in the upcoming weeks. There are currently twelve reticulated giraffe at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium – three male, eight female and the calf.
The gestation period for a giraffe is 15 months. Giraffe give birth while standing and the calf is born feet first. The calf will nurse for about four months, then it will begin consuming solid food such as hay and pelleted grain. Giraffe calves grow at a rapid rate during their first year of life, gaining about three and a half to four pounds per day.
Giraffe were officially listed as Vulnerable on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in 2016. Habitat loss has been a major factor in the population decline, which has been approximately 80 percent in the last thirty years for the reticulated giraffe species. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium supports field conservation efforts of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, an organization that focuses on understanding the range and distribution of giraffe in Africa and habitat management.
There are currently 237 reticulated giraffe at 76 reporting Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institutions. There have been 19 reticulated giraffe births in the last 12 months at AZA accredited institutions, including Omaha’s Zoo and Aquarium’s new calf.
Zoo visitors are invited to help name the calf by submitting a name in the Giraffe Herd Rooms. Submissions will be accepted Dec. 1-8. Giraffe keepers will select the winning name. The winner will be announced on Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s Facebook page on Dec. 13.