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Brookfield Zoo welcomes newborn giraffe

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

You have to be a little bit lucky to see the young male calf. He's still very shy and hangs out in a corner protected by the adults. But if you're patient, there's a good chance that eventually he'll come strolling by.

At birth, he was 5'9" and 170 pounds, and his neck is already heading for the sky.

"He's doing wonderfully. He's growing up. He's walking around, playing with his older brother Dave and getting to know the exhibit, getting to know all the other giraffes. He's just doing wonderful," said Amy Roberts, curator of mammals, Brookfield Zoo.

Over 14 months of gestation have led to this handsome young giraffe. But as you might imagine, these births are almost never easy. This is a big, blessed event, and this time the Brookfield zookeepers had their camera ready.

"He didn't start really moving around until Mom usually starts pawing at it with her nose and started stimulating it and then she cleaned it up. He stood up within two hours. He started nursing and it was just perfect," said Roberts.

So the birth was perfect, they thought. But then the keepers noticed there was something wrong with the young giraffe's muscles.

"Once he finally stood, we were able to see he had some immature musculature, that his legs were a little bit weak and his spine looked crooked. But in reality, it was just immature musculature and in a few days he was completely normal."

So here at Brookfield Zoo we have a completely healthy calf, but he is lucky those weak muscles hadn't happened in the wild.

"Chances are he wouldn't have made it. He probably wouldn't have had the two to three days of peace and protection and quiet that he needed to get those muscles up and active," said Roberts.

The unnamed little boy will grow up to be about 20 feet tall, so this not the end of this tail.

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