A gangly new addition to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s giraffe family has placed the proverbial millstone around his mother’s (very long) neck. Audrey, one of the Zoo’s two pregnant Masai giraffes, gave birth to a male calf early on Thursday morning, following nearly 15 months of gestation and two hours and 15 minutes of labor.
The new calf rose to his hooves after less than an hour, teetering at a healthy 6’3”. He underwent a routine medical exam on Friday afternoon to determine when he will be fit for exhibition, seems to be nursing normally, and is not expected to need any hand-rearing.
If all goes as planned, Audrey’s new calf will soon find himself a playmate in the Giraffe Barn. Though her exact date of conception remains unknown, Betty Lou — the Zoo’s other pregnant Masai female — is expected to pop any day now. Counting from the very first day Michael (both calves’ father) had access to the females, Betty Lou’s gestation period technically ended on April 6, meaning her calf could arrive in hours or days.
Luckily, zoo officials have been baby-proofing for months to prepare for these new arrivals. The giraffe habitat has been outfitted with accommodations including 24-hour remote monitoring capabilities, new “Dutch” doors to allow feeding without fully opening the door, calf-height feeders and drinkers, and straw bales in place to keep small hooves from getting caught.
Community members can help the zoo welcome Audrey and Betty Lou’s calves by becoming Foster Feeders. With a $50 donation, one can help cover the cost of feeding the expanding family, receiving in return the calf’s baby photo, a certificate, a giraffe fact sheet, and recognition on the Zoo’s Foster Feeder.
For updates about the calf and the impending second birth, or to become a Foster Feeder, please visit sbzoo.org.