The birth of a baby giraffe in Cincinnati zoo ended the long wait of the staffers who last saw a baby giraffe birth in 1985. The calf, born on Saturday was seen cuddling its mother and nestled to her warmth while also looking at the world it had arrived in.
It was early morning 5.00 am on 2nd April when Tessa the four year old female giraffe at the Cincinnati zoo began showing signs of going into labor. The zoo staff huddled around the monitor carefully observing each moment of the process. From the first hoofs popping out to the calf’s first steps into the world, they spent hours in front of the monitor beholding the rare moments captured in the video.
“When there’s a birth of an animal, it’s awe-inspiring because nature is a phenomenal system,” said executive director Thane Maynard. “That’s true when a mouse is born, but when you’ve got a 6-foot baby that comes out and flops on the ground, it’s just the darndest thing. It goes without saying, this is an exciting day.”
The calf showed its natural instincts when within 20 minutes of birth it was standing on its wobbly feet and began nursing within an hour. The gender of the baby is still not known as the zoo officials want the mother and child to have as much solitary bonding time as possible.
“Human beings are mammals and mammals are a caring, giving sort of animal,” Maynard said. “It is born in us to care about baby animals. That’s why anyone riding in a car would stop for a puppy when a reptile would probably say, ‘Well, I wanna eat that puppy.’
The zoo has continuously worked towards providing a safe habitat for the animals and conditions suitable for breeding. Previously they had success with baby gorilla, cheetah and tigers. They have also worked hard to breed polar bears although it is not an easy task understanding the perfect conditions required for each animal. They also had to deal with unfortunate circumstances like the death of a baby Indian rhinoceros in October.
But the present birth increases hopes for the breeding program.
The baby giraffe is also very special because it is after a gap of 26 years that the zoo has successfully bred giraffes although there have been 10 previous calves born. The first in 1889 made the Cincinnati Zoo the first in the Western Hemisphere to have a giraffe born in captivity.
Tessa too is a first time mother. She was brought in 2008 from Houston zoo as also Kimba, the baby’s father who was brought from Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I.
The zoo hopes to add to its giraffe family by acquiring another female giraffe in a year’s time.
“Up to this point, (giraffes) is not a thing the Cincinnati Zoo has been known for,” Maynard said. “We are known for gorillas and cats, so what’s exciting now is that we’re known for breeding giraffes.”
Visitors can see the newborn on Tuesday although it may stay inside until warmer conditions. They can be seen through a viewing area and a color monitor.
People have already started pouring in names like ‘April’ and ‘Tulip’ for the yet to be named giraffe. Once the gender is known and the baby starts appearing more frequently in the public, the name suggestions and popularity of the latest cute addition will only increase.