Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Welcomes Newborn Giraffe

April 26, 2017

– Calf is the 199th born at the Zoo —

Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is proud to announce the 199th successful giraffe birth in its history – the healthy calf was born overnight last night. The calf is the second offspring for mom, Msitu (pronounced miss-ee-TOO), and the third to be sired by dad, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED). The calf joins our existing herd of 16 giraffe.

The giraffe building will be closed today to allow mom and baby some quiet time to bond and nurse. The rest of our herd will be available for viewing and feeding in the outside yard, weather permitting. Assuming that mom and baby are nursing consistently, the public will be allowed some limited viewing opportunities starting tomorrow.

“Msitu was a great mom to her first calf, Emy, so she knew exactly what to do when this baby was born,” said Amy Schilz, animal care manager. “Since mom and baby appear to be healthy, our vet team has not needed to intervene. It’s best to let nature take its course.”

The sex, weight and height of the calf is not known yet because everything is going so well. When they’re born, giraffe calves are typically five to six feet tall and 150 to 200 pounds. This calf appears to be within those healthy parameters. The gestation time for giraffe is a long 15 to 16 months.

Because Msitu was also born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, she has grown up in the culture of voluntary husbandry training that the Zoo is known for in the industry. This means that she voluntarily participates in her own health care, which fosters a strong trust relationship between keeper and animal.

Through this training, the Zoo was able to voluntarily draw blood, confirming Msitu’s ovulation at the time of breeding, and ultimately, confirmed the pregnancy early on. The Zoo was able to get ultrasound images of the calf during the pregnancy with Msitu’s cooperation, and they were even able to bank some of Msitu’s plasma, in case the calf had needed it after birth.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is not only a leader in the training and health of giraffe in human care, but they are also making a huge difference in conservation of giraffe in the wild. The status of giraffe was recently changed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from “least concern” to “vulnerable,” acknowledging the fact that their population in the wild has plummeted by 40 percent in the last 30 years.

Last year, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s guests and members used their Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) admission contributions to send $26,000 to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and its efforts to help the Rothschild’s giraffe in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.

Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will be named after he or she is 30 days old.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is home to the world’s most prolific captive reticulated giraffe herd, with 199 births at the Zoo since 1954. Guests can get up close and hand-feed them on special indoor and outdoor elevated platforms anytime during the day, 365 days a year.

Photos/Video of giraffe calf:

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s ONLY mountain zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s hope that guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 230 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just nine operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues and donations for funding.