A male giraffe calf named Chad was born last Saturday night at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Standing 6’6” tall and weighing 191 pounds, he was born after five hours of labor to an 8-year-old Masai giraffe named Audrey. Although Chad has yet to make his public debut, an announcement on the zoo’s website says he and his mother are “doing well” and “bonding” inside the zoo’s Giraffe Barn.
Both mother and son are part of approximately 120 Masai — one of nine giraffe subspecies native to Africa — living at 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The nonprofit AZA runs a Species Survival Plan (SSP) for the Masai giraffes, breeding them in captivity to strengthen the species’ gene pool and protect them from poaching and degradation, according to the zoo’s website.
On average, a giraffe pregnancy lasts 14.5 months, said the zoo’s Director of Animal Programs and Masai SSP Coordinator Sheri Horiszny in a press release. Giraffe calves usually weigh between 125-150 pounds and measure 6-feet tall at birth, she added. As adults, Masai clock in as a tallest land mammal on Earth — they reach heights of 17 feet and weights of 2,700 pounds. Kenya and Tanzania are home to an estimated 37,000 members of the subspecies, according to the zoo.
In late summer, the zoo’s second female Masai giraffe, Betty Lou, is due to give birth.