NORFOLK — The Virginia Zoo welcomed a male Masai giraffe calf Saturday. This is the first baby for mom Noelle, who is 5 years old, and the sixth for dad Billy.
Noelle gave birth during the early morning hours in her indoor enclosure in the Africa – Okavango Delta, according to a news release from the zoo.
Zoo keepers had been monitoring her throughout her pregnancy and in preparation for the calf’s impending birth, extra bedding was added to her stall.
Giraffes give birth standing up and within a few hours of birth, most calves can stand and run on their own. However, this calf was not able to stand or walk for several hours after being born, according to the zoo.
Once he was able to stand and walk, nursing was not observed during the first 24 hours. After veterinary and animal care staff assessed the situation internally and consulted with additional giraffe experts at other zoos across the country, the decision was made to temporarily separate mom and baby and begin supportive care, which included a regimen of antibiotics and fluids, the news release indicated.
Zoo staff have monitored the calf around the clock since his birth and continued supportive care and supplemental feedings. Staff have also continued to put Noelle and the calf together to allow them to bond and to encourage nursing on his own.
“We’re hopeful that the calf will continue to respond to treatment,” said Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo. “You never know what to expect with first-time moms, but I’m confident our staff is providing the best care for the newborn and we’ll just have to be patient with the process.”
The Africa barn where visitors can see the giraffe in their indoor enclosure has been temporarily closed so the calf has time to adjust and continue to bond with mom without any interruptions.
At birth, the calf weighed 123 pounds, and stands just under 6 feet tall.