At 4:35am Nov. 8, the Indianapolis Zoo welcomed the birth of a male reticulated giraffe. The calf weighed 137 pounds and stood about 6 feet tall at birth. He is already growing and will be several feet taller before his first birthday.
The newborn is the first calf for 3-year-old mother Kita. Following a 14-month pregnancy, female giraffes give birth standing up. While their arrival into the world is somewhat abrupt, newborn giraffes are extremely resilient and are typically up on their feet in less than an hour. Zookeepers said the calf is curious, following close behind mom and nursing well. The other members of the herd have shown interest in interacting, even licking the calf through the stall fence.
Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, giraffes bear a beautiful coat of brown spots that helps provide camouflage on the arid plains. While every giraffe’s pattern is unique, the Zoo’s youngster currently takes after his father, 10-year-old Majani, with his lighter, caramel-colored patches.
The tallest mammal on land, giraffes are one of Africa’s most iconic species, yet they are still vulnerable to extinction. To support a healthy population of animals in human care, the Zoo maintains an active giraffe breeding program through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Like all of the Zoo’s animals, this newborn will be an ambassador and help to raise awareness for conservation of the species.
The Zoo’s giraffe herd, which is now up to five, will spend much of the winter inside its climate-controlled indoor facility. The new family is expected to make its debut in the spring, and at that time, guests will have an opportunity to meet members of the herd up close during public feeds.