NORFOLK, Va. – A new addition has been added to the giraffe family at the Virginia Zoo.
Noelle and Billy, two of the Virginia Zoos giraffes, welcomed their calf on Sunday. This is Noelle’s first calf and Billy’s sixth.
Noelle gave birth early Sunday morning in her indoor enclosure in the Africa – Okavango Delta. At birth, the calf weighed 123 pounds, and stands just under 6 feet tall.
The Zoo Keepers had been monitoring her throughout her pregnancy.
Giraffes give birth standing up and most calves can stand and run on their own within a few hours of birth. However, this calf was not able to stand or walk for several hours after being born.
Once he was able to stand and walk, nursing was not observed during the first 24 hours.
After Veterinary and Animal Care Staff consulted with giraffe experts at other zoos across the country and assessed the situation internally, a decision was made to temporarily separate mom and baby. The baby began supportive care, which included a regimen of antibiotics and fluids.
“We’re hopeful that the calf will continue to respond to treatment. 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,” said Greg Bockheim, Executive Director of the Virginia Zoo.
The staff has been monitoring the calf around the clock since birth and continue supportive care and supplemental feedings.
Although Noelle and her baby are temporarily separated, the staff continues to put them together to allow them to bond and encoring nursing on his own.
The Virginia Zoo says the Africa barn has been temporarily closed so the calf has time to adjust and continue to bond with Noelle without any interruptions.