It’s a girl.
The day after the birth of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s newest giraffe, keepers had determined the calf is a she and appeared to be healthy.
In fact, she already was proving to be “a little firecracker,” Rachel Hahn, an animal keeper, said Sunday.
The calf, who is more than 6 feet tall, was born at 1:20 p.m. Saturday. Following zoo tradition, she will be named after she is 30 days old.
“This baby, while we were watching, we were all like, ‘Holy moly,’ she stood in 35 minutes, which is the fastest that we have ever seen a giraffe calf stand up,” said Amy Schilz, senior lead animal keeper. “She nursed right away. She just was really strong. A lot of the calves that we’ve seen be born here will stand up and fall and stand up and fall until they figure our how to get their legs underneath them. She fell a couple of times, but the first time she stood, she had it down.
“She’s also been climbing over the top of her mom when her mom is sleeping. She’s great with guests. So, a lot of the things that we know would or could make us nervous, this baby’s just checked them all off the list as far as, ‘I’m strong and happy and healthy,’ so we’re really excited about that.”
Msitu, a 10-year-old reticulated giraffe, had been bred with a bull named Khalid in April 2018. The newborn calf is the zoo’s 201st giraffe birth, bringing the herd to 16, the largest in North America.
After the calf was born, “everyone’s smiling ear to ear, just really, really happy that it seemed to go so great,” Hahn said. “We saw Msitu doing awesome mom things. She was cleaning off baby right away, doing everything — like, if we were looking at a textbook of the perfect giraffe birth, she did that and then the calf did that, so we’re pretty elated.”
In the wild, giraffes are facing “the silent crisis,” with populations plummeting by about 40% in the past 10 years, Schliz said.
“The reason that we have these beautiful animals here at the zoo is to help get people to fall in love with them so that they can save them in the wild.”
Reticulated giraffes, the subspecies to which the zoo’s giraffes belong, are endangered, with just under 11,000 in the wild and decreasing.
Zoo visitors were able to see the newborn giraffe Sunday. By midday, a long line of people were waiting to get into the indoor giraffe barn, where the calf and her mother were staying.
“We started getting … calls at about 8:15 this morning, asking us, ‘Is the giraffe barn open? Can we come in?’” Schliz said. “So I think people are pretty excited about the little baby.”
Visitors will be able to see the mother and calf as long as they “continue to appear to be strong and aren’t upset by visitors,” the zoo said.
“Right now, just like we do everything else here, we let the animals’ behavior dictate how we operate,” Hahn said. “So today, we’re kind of limiting the amount of people who are in here at one given time, we’re trying to reduce noise as best as we can. So it’s a little bit different, the way we’re letting people into the barn to see her.”
One of Sunday’s visitors, Lisa Meyerhoff, has hundreds of giraffe figurines that she’s been collecting since 1972. She and her husband, Jim, were visiting Colorado Springs from Houston.
“We heard that the baby was born yesterday, so we chose today to come to the zoo,” Meyerhoff said. “This zoo is phenomenal. Way better than some of the zoos we’ve seen. A lot of them, you can come and there might be two giraffes out there and you can kind of feed it lettuce, and here, there’s the whole gang.”
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