Monday, July 23 , 2018, 7:29 am | Fair 67º


Local News

Baby Masai Giraffe Born at Santa Barbara Zoo

Audrey nuzzles her new calf, which was born Saturday night at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
Audrey nuzzles her new calf, which was born Saturday night at the Santa Barbara Zoo. (Santa Barbara Zoo photo)

The Santa Barbara Zoo’s newest resident was born Saturday night when Audrey, an 8-year-old Masai giraffe, gave birth to a calf.

The baby giraffe was born at 9:28 p.m. in the zoo’s Giraffe Barn after about five hours of labor, the zoo announced late Saturday.

The sex, height, weight and health of the calf have not been determined, but zoo officials said the animal will have its first medical examination on Sunday or Monday.

The calf has not yet been named, and no decision has been made on when it will be able to leave the barn. Neither the baby giraffe nor its mother will be on view to the public until then, the zoo said.

Zoo officials say the new calf’s sire, Michael, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in captivity, because he has few relatives in zoos other than his five offspring, all of which were born in Santa Barbara.

“Michael’s genetics greatly help the diversity of the North American Masai population,” said Sheri Horiszny, the zoo’s director of animal care. “Every Masai giraffe born here is critical to keeping the gene pool robust.”

The zoo’s giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The new calf is Audrey’s fourth. Her last calf, Buttercup, was born in 2014.

The zoo’s other female giraffe, Betty Lou, is also pregnant, and is expected to give birth in July.

Zoo officials are encouraging the public to welcome the new giraffe by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor with a donation of $50 or more. New giraffe Foster Feeders receive a baby photo of the calf along with a certificate, giraffe fact sheet and recognition on the zoo’s Foster Feeder board. Click here for more information.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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