WICHITA, Kansas (KWCH) – Staff at the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City say they received a late Christmas present when a reticulated giraffe calf was born on December 26th. 9-year-old Cleo and his 13-year-old dad Juani. Zoo staff conducted a health check on the 27th after giving mother and baby time to bond. Both mother and baby are said to be doing well.
Zoo staff have been closely monitoring Cleo for the past week. A zookeeper finds Cleo in the early stages of giving birth during a morning check. The male calf weighed 185 pounds and began nursing within hours of birth.
The birth is the result of a breeding recommendation from the Giraffe Species Survival Program, which works within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) member agencies to coordinate species population management and enhance conservation of the species in the wild. . Wild giraffe populations have declined 40% over the past 30 years due to poaching and habitat destruction. AZA members and their partners work together to save giraffes through education, scientific research, fieldwork, and public awareness and action.
Calves were born in indoor quarters. Mom and calf stay indoors for a few days to bond, after which access to the outside is made based on outside temperature. Public access may be restricted within the giraffe enclosure to ensure mother and calf privacy. Juani stays away from the mother and baby until the newborn grows a little and has a stable foot. Next week, the public will be given the opportunity to help choose names for their calves.
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