Giraffes are truly one of the most unique and beautiful animals in the world. They’re such tall, majestic animals — and they’re that way right from the start.
Giraffes give birth to unusually big newborns: new arrivals can be over six feet tall, the third-largest in the animal kingdom, and they take their first wobbly steps immediately after being born.
Seeing a giraffe born is truly a unique and wonderful experience to behold — and recently, visitors at one zoo got to experience it up-close after a mama giraffe unexpectedly gave birth.
According to a press release from the Virginia Zoo, in Norfolk, a baby Masai giraffe calf was born on September 9, to mom Imara.
The newborn, a female, has been named Tisa, the Swahili word for “nine,” because she was born on 9/9 and because it’s her mom’s ninth child.
Zoo staff knew that Imara was pregnant and had been monitoring her birth, but the exact due date was unknown. They said that the calf’s arrival was “unique” because it occurred in the morning during zoo hours, and some lucky visitors got to see the miracle of birth in person.
Giraffe births are unique in many ways. Giraffes have 14-month gestation periods, so when their babies arrive they are already pretty well-formed and ready to go.
Baby giraffes can be over 6 feet tall, and are able to start walking often within an hour of being born.
Giraffes have the third-largest newborns in the animal kingdom, behind only blue whales and elephants, averaging about 165 pounds.
The zoo said the newborn weighed 122.5 pounds, and was already six feet tall. Zoo veterinarians performed an exam and said the newborn was “healthy and full of personality.”
“She appears strong and is already learning to run!” the zoo wrote.
It is the ninth calf for Imara, and the fifteenth for the calf’s father, Billy. The parents were mated based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Masai giraffes.
This is important because the Masai giraffe is considered an endangered species. According to National Geographic, there are an estimated 35,000 Masai giraffes left, and their population has fallen 50 percent over the last three decades, primarily due to poaching and habitat loss.
With the Masai giraffe so at-risk, the Virginia Zoo called the newborn’s arrival “especially important.”
The arrival brings the zoo’s giraffe population to five: along with Imara, Billy and Tisa, they also have a female giraffe named Noelle and her calf Mchanga, who arrived in December.
Giraffes are so beautiful, right from birth. Because the Masai giraffe is endangered, every new birth is crucial, so this is amazing news for the survival of this species.
Welcome to the world, little Tisa! Share this amazing news! 🦒❤️