COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s beloved giraffes gave birth to her first calf Monday.
Bailey, an 8-year-old giraffe who arrived at the zoo in 2016, gave birth at 11:37 a.m. Monday.
Zoo staff said Thursday afternoon that Bailey and the calf are doing well.
“Bailey, who is the calf’s mom, first-time mom, she is doing great. She’s doing everything we would expect a mom to do. Our baby is also doing really wonderful, she’s doing great doing all the things, we’re taking it day by day, and she’s progressing just as expected,” said African Rift Valley Senior Animal Keeper Diana Miller.
Keepers said the new calf is one of the smallest they’ve ever seen. Newborn giraffe calves are typically five to six feet tall and weigh 150 to 200 pounds. Keepers say the calf weighs 116 pounds and is roughly five and a half feet tall.
“At first, the calf had a hard time standing because she had positioned herself in a corner of the stall and she kept bumping into the walls before she could get her footing,” the zoo said. “After waiting to see if she could get up on her own, keepers and vet staff asked Bailey to move into another area so they could give the calf a hand. The team picked her up and moved her into the middle of the stall around 1:27 p.m. She took her first steps on her own after a quick medical assessment, then a nudge from mom, at 1:38 p.m. As long as keepers observe that baby and mom are doing well, they will continue to let Bailey take the lead on providing her care.”
Guests will be able to see the new baby calf as long as everything continues to go well, according to Rachel Wright the PR Manager for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
“We’ll keep the barn open to a limited capacity so people can come through and see her whether she’s inside or outside,” she said.
“Giraffe calves can be fragile, so we try to encourage people to be realistic about the risks while they enjoy the excitement of the hope we know giraffe calves bring to so many,” the zoo said in a statement. “We’re optimistic that advances in medicine, like the availability of giraffe plasma and stem cell treatments, will help us navigate any medical needs the calf may have.”
Following zoo tradition, the calf will be named after she is 30 days old. For right now, they are referring to her as “Baby.”
The new calf brings the total number of reticulated giraffe at the zoo to 17.
The mother, Bailey, was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska in March 2012. She was moved to Colorado Springs on a breeding recommendation in September 2016.
Zoo records show that Bailey bred with the bull Khalid on June 29, 2019. Giraffe pregnancies generally last between 14 and 16 months. The 15-month mark would have been Tuesday, September 29.
“CMZoo takes precautions for the well-being of mom and calf by providing a sand-floor stall for Bailey, separate from the rest of the herd,” the zoo said. “In anticipation of the birth, Bailey was moved to a sand stall on August 29, which CMZoo staff anticipated was the earliest date Bailey could go into labor.”
“During the day, when the herd went outside, she remained with them in the main yard. At night, she moved to the sand stall. The sand helps mom and baby in a few ways: by preventing injury to the calf upon the five-foot drop it encounters as it’s born, by providing a more absorbent substrate that helps prevent slips for the baby’s first steps, and by providing a cushion for the calf as it learns to walk and inevitably stumbles.”
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has welcomed more than 200 calves since its giraffe breeding program began in 1954.