It’s a boy!
The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe Audrey gave birth at 3:52 p.m. Thursday to a male calf after more than 15 months of being pregnant.
The zoo’s other female, Betty Lou, is also expecting a calf sired by the zoo’s male giraffe, Michael, and could give birth days or weeks from now.
It’s the zoo’s first Masia giraffe calf to be born there, and employees have been preparing for months for the newest additions.
Audrey gave birth after about two hours and 15 minutes of labor, according to the zoo.
The calf stood up after 50 minutes and is about 6 feet, 3-inches tall. He appears to be nursing normally, unlike Audrey’s “surprise calf” Daniel, and probably won’t need any hand-rearing by zoo employees.
There will be a medical exam Friday afternoon to assess the calf’s health, weight and height, and determine when he will be on view for the public, said Dean Noble with the zoo.
“This birth is special in so many ways,” Zoo Director Nancy McToldridge said in a statement Friday.
“It is always a joy to see a new life begin and, in a way, it helps ease the pain of losing Daniel last summer. Scientifically, this calf is very valuable genetically to all regionally managed Masai giraffes because his
father, Michael, is not related to any of the female Masai giraffes in the United States.”
Audrey and Betty Lou are both 12 feet tall and 5 years old.
Michael came to the zoo from Canada last January specifically for breeding, and the zoo hopes he will father many more calves in the future.
The giraffe barn has been calf-proofed with new feeding doors, pads and hay bales, and the zoo also installed a fence in the giraffe exhibit in case some of the giraffes need to be separated from each other. Though this first calf doesn’t appear to need any hand-rearing, zookeepers have the appropriate equipment and supplements ready in case they are needed, Noble said.
For more information on the giraffes or becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the new calf, visit the zoo’s website.