The Metro Richmond Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a male Reticulated giraffe. He was born to parents Iris and Wakati on August 2, 2023, after a 15 month gestation. This is the first giraffe calf born at the zoo in nearly 4 years.
The unnamed calf is anything but little. He stands over 6 feet tall and weighs around 175 pounds. Female giraffes give birth standing up and the entire process is miraculous. The calf enters the world front legs first, followed by the head, neck, and shoulders, and then plummets 6 feet to the ground. This drop doesn’t hurt the calf, but it does sever the umbilical cord and help trigger the first breath. Within one hour of birth, the baby can stand, walk, and nurse.
Young giraffes grow quickly. By the time this baby turns one year old, he will nearly double in height.
Iris is an experienced mother. She is 10 years old and this is her 3rd calf. Mom and baby are doing well and can be seen at the zoo daily. They currently reside in a temporary holding area that can be viewed from the giraffe hill in the park. As the baby gets older, he will be introduced to the rest of the giraffe herd and move into the large habitat.
The Reticulated giraffe is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red list, so each birth is important. This species of giraffe has seen a 56% population decline in the last 30 years in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.
Update: This baby giraffe was named Hawthorne.
A second baby giraffe was born on September 15.