Columbus Zoo celebrates birth of endangered Masai giraffe

Newborn baby animals are always adorable, but there’s something extra special about the arrival of a baby giraffe. Unlike most newborns, giraffes can be over six feet tall at birth and stand on their own feet instantly.

It’s also always great news because the giraffe is a vulnerable species, so each new birth is a step towards ensuring their survival.

Which is why one zoo is celebrating the arrival of a new baby giraffe, who arrived on August 31.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio, announced the arrival of the male Masai giraffe calf, who is already looking adorable. They described his “fuzzy mane, unique spot pattern, enviable eyelashes, and long wobbly legs.”

According to the zoo, the calf’s mother is Zuri, who previously gave birth to three of the zoo’s other giraffes with her mate, Enzi.

Zuri and Enzi were paired by a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Sadly, Enzi did not live to see his child born: he was reportedly humanely euthanized in September 2021 due to failing health.

But mom Zuri is doing well raising the baby, and is currently bonding with her newborn behind the scenes.

“The care team continues to observe Zuri and her newborn very closely via camera monitors and reports that Zuri is being a great mother,” the Columbus Zoo wrote on Facebook. “After many good attempts, the calf stood, took a few steps, and was nursing shortly after birth. The next day, the Animal Health and Animal Care teams completed a wellness exam on the calf and confirmed that the calf seems to be healthy and well fed.”

Giraffes are among the most unique and beautiful newborn animals. Giraffe moms have a 15-month gestation period, so their babies arrive in the world fully formed and ready to take their first, wobbly steps.

Masai giraffes are the largest giraffe subspecies and can grow up to 17 feet tall and 2,700 pounds. They also give birth to the third-largest newborns in the animal kingdom, behind only blue whales and elephants, averaging about 165 pounds.

While the Masai giraffe is certainly a majestic species, sadly they’re also very vulnerable. They are listed by the IUCN as an endangered species. According to the zoo, their population has fallen by nearly 50 percent over the last three decades, caused by habitat loss and poaching. There are currently only about 35,000 Masai giraffes left in the world.

Which is even more reason to celebrate this newborn calf’s arrival: “Not only is the calf fiercely cute, but his birth is especially significant as it marks an important achievement for the future of this endangered species,” the zoo wrote.

The newborn giraffe is not currently available for viewing by the public, as he’s bonding with his mom behind the scenes. He also doesn’t yet have a name, but the zoo said they would announce it soon.

What an adorable newborn giraffe, and a great sign of hope for this endangered species. Welcome to the world!

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