NORFOLK, Va. – A baby Masai giraffe calf was born at the Virginia Zoo on Sunday.
The baby girl was born to five-time mother Imara and father Billy.
The calf weighed 149 pounds and measured in at 5 feet 11 inches tall. She could stand and walk within the first few hours after birth!
Imara was in labor for two hours on Sunday and gave birth while Zoo visitors watched through observation windows.
The calf was born with a birth defect called carpal laxity, meaning her front limbs appear to bow slightly backwards as she walks. However, the zoo says the defect is not uncommon among animals and has been reported in giraffes.
The exact cause of the condition is unknown but the giraffe is not in pain.
“The calf is bright, alert and strong. More importantly, she has been observed suckling from her mother, Imara, and is able to move around her stall quite well.” said Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian. “Imara is an experienced and attentive mother and we’re optimistic that she’ll do a great job. Many of these calves grow out of this condition, but there are those calves that may need support and assistance as they grow. Since this calf is strong and has been getting adequate nutrition, we are hopeful that she will continue to thrive with her mother’s care. Improvement or resolution could take several weeks to months. We are monitoring her closely and collaborating with our veterinary and zoo partners to ensure that she is a happy, healthy giraffe.”
The calf has not been named yet, but a naming competition will be underway in the next few weeks.
The mom and baby can be seen at the indoor giraffe exhibit in Africa. Both mom and calf will be given access to the main exhibit so the baby can begin to explore her surroundings.