Wednesday is our spunky and curious giraffe calf who is learning new things quickly and already starting training!

When Wednesday was six weeks old, Wednesday’s mom, Bailey, had a few off days where she didn’t want to nurse very much. After observing this, keepers stepped in and fed Wednesday milk and grain from a bowl. Bailey seems back to normal and is nursing Wednesday again. Because the keepers needed to step in early, they have been able to start training Wednesday to walk on a scale. Wednesday’s most current weight is 266 pounds.

As she continues to grow and train, Wednesday will learn how to shift spaces and how to touch her nose to a target, and eventually participate in our hoof care program. These important foundational behaviors will help keepers check up on Wednesday’s health and move around the giraffe spaces.

Back to The Waterhole


In 2017, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium established the Giraffe Plasma Bank to help reduce giraffe calf mortalities. The International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe, established this summer, is dedicated to growing the number of available banks around the country, and recently welcomed new partners.

Newborn giraffe calves may be six feet tall and can walk within hours of being born, but they’re extremely fragile. In the wild, calves have about a 50 percent mortality rate in their first year. In human care, it’s about 20 percent. The cause of a calf’s struggles can many times be traced to initial difficulty nursing. Its first mother’s milk, called colostrum, provides important antibodies and proteins. Without it, calves are more susceptible to infections and other health issues.

But, plasma treatments can increase the chance of survival for a calf that doesn’t receive their mother’s colostrum in the first day of life. Plasma is the liquid component of blood, and accounts for more than half of blood’s volume. It contains antibodies and transports nutrients, electrolytes, hormones, and other important substances throughout the body. It also helps remove toxins from the body by transporting them to filtering organs, like the liver, lungs, kidneys, or skin.

To get plasma, you need willing blood donors.

“Not all heroes wear capes,” said Amy Schilz, senior animal behaviorist at the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe (The Center). “Some wear spots.”

At CMZoo, 12-year-old male, Mashama, and 13-year-old female, Msitu, are the most eager voluntary blood donors. The two well-known giraffe work with their trainers to receive positive reinforcers – crackers, in most cases – while their team draws blood from a vein in their neck.

WATCH THIS BLOOD DRAW SESSION WITH MASHAMA

“The sessions are always completely voluntary, and Mashama and Msitu get excited for the reinforcers and extra attention they receive during training sessions,” said Schilz. “They can choose to walk away at any time, and our veterinary technicians use a specialized blood draw setup so the needle comes right out if the giraffe walks away. We also watch for signs of discomfort and we stop if we think a giraffe isn’t enjoying it, but we really don’t see that.”

Each giraffe plasma transfusion requires about six 250 ML bags of plasma to create, and each bag of blood takes about 20 minutes to collect. Once blood is drawn, it is ‘spun’ in a machine called a centrifuge at a local veterinary based blood bank. Centrifugal force separates blood into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma. Our veterinary team collects the separated, then frozen, plasma from the blood bank and stores it in CMZoo’s Giraffe Plasma Bank freezer, so it’s ready to go when giraffe calves need it.

The Center’s team shares their training methods, learns from others, and connects organizations that can now work together to make more plasma available in more locations – and that benefits giraffe calves everywhere, regardless of whether they live at an AZA-accredited facility or with a reputable private holder.

“I know this all sounds very scientific, but this program exists because we love giraffe and we want to save as many calves as we can,” said Schilz. “If we all work together, we can do that. That’s why we’re really excited to welcome more contributors to the Giraffe Plasma Bank team.”

In the past year, the multi-location Giraffe Plasma Bank has grown to five locations, and four more are in the process of training and setting up their banks. Dickerson Park Zoo, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in Springfield, Missouri, became a contributing member of the Giraffe Plasma Bank recently.

“We care for two giraffes that love to participate in training,” said Tracy Campbell, head keeper of Africa and South America at Dickerson Park Zoo. “Plus, we have a giraffe staff which does a great job with them. This is something we can do to help out the future of the population, and we are happy to do what we can. I give all the credit to my team for their hard work.”

Another new contributor is Highpoint Haven, a private facility and home to four giraffe in northeast Texas. Their team has a goal to lead a better standard of care for privately held exotic animals.

Dan Houck, a passionate giraffe lover and conservationist, owns Highpoint Haven. He has attended many of CMZoo’s giraffe care workshops, now operated by The Center, since 2016. Houck learned about hoof care, blood draw training and more, at those workshops and was able to customize those teachings to benefit the individual needs of the giraffe in his care. In 2021, a calf born into his herd directly benefitted from the knowledge, network and resources he gained at those workshops.

The calf, now named Sophie, was the second baby born to parents Harriet and Gerald. The labor and birth were textbook, but Sophie was unable to nurse.

“About four hours after Sophie was born and still hadn’t nursed, I was starting to get nervous,” said Houck. “We knew it was critical for the calf to get colostrum in the first 24 hours, but learned that many calves struggle if they don’t nurse within the first 9 hours or so. We needed plasma and we had to act quickly.”

Through his participation at the giraffe care workshops, Houck knew he could reach out to Dr. Liza Dadone, senior giraffe veterinarian at The Center and original co-founder of the Giraffe Plasma Bank along with Dr. Priya Bapodra-Villaverde, senior veterinarian at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Drs. Dadone and Bapodra-Villaverde were eager to help, but it was a Saturday, so mailing plasma to Texas from Colorado or Ohio wasn’t an option because it wouldn’t be delivered on a Sunday. The Highpoint Haven team started bottle feeding the calf with supplemental colostrum. They also drew blood and found that her blood glucose levels were dangerously low. Meanwhile, Dr. Dadone started calling on her network. The team was able to locate two bags of plasma, which were unused after another calf recently needed help at a zoo nearby. The team drove to pick up the two available bags of plasma on Sunday afternoon and administered them to the calf.

“By Monday morning, she was nursing,” said Houck. “The plasma transfusion was life-changing for her. It kick-started her instinct to nurse almost immediately. While we cared for Sophie, the team kept working to deliver more plasma from the Giraffe Plasma Bank to get us through the full treatment, which is six bags. Sophie got her last dose that Thursday and she’s been growing and thriving ever since. Now, she weighs 904 pounds and counting. She’s a handful, just like her dad.”

On Sept. 18, 2022, the Highpoint Haven family celebrated Sophie’s first birthday by making their first contribution to the Giraffe Plasma Bank, with Dr. Dadone on site to assist. Sophie’s dad, Gerald, was the voluntary donor.

“Gerald is a truly a one-in-a-million giraffe,” said Lauren Kimbro, manager of animal care and training at Highpoint Haven. “We have seen first-hand how plasma can save a calf, and Sophie is a healthy, happy calf with us today because of the expertise and generosity of the Giraffe Plasma Bank team. It takes a village, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Since its inception, the Giraffe Plasma Bank has benefitted 13 giraffe calves, and the teams look forward to continuing and expanding that reach as more donors and banks join the effort. To learn more about the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe, visit cmzoo.org/giraffecare.

Back to The Waterhole

Join us for an update on our 1-week-old giraffe calf! In case you haven’t heard, 10-year-old Bailey had her second baby on Wed., Oct. 19 at 10:49 a.m. The calf is a girl and is already showing us that she is strong, brave, and very curious in the way that she interacts with her mom and her keepers. The calf is not afraid to ‘trot’ around her enclosures and explore everything, including her water bowl, while also staying close to Bailey. The calf is gradually meeting other members of the herd and appears to be very comfortable with her new friends. This cutie can be seen by guests in the giraffe barn and sometimes outside in our smaller yards with Bailey.

Thank you so much for playing our guessing game with the calf’s birth date and time! Our closest guess was for Oct. 19 at 10:47 am., just two minutes from her birth time! The winner has been notified. Thank you for following along with our herd and supporting Bailey and her second calf! We’ll keep you posted as this little one grows up with us.

Back to The Waterhole

MOM AND BABY ARE DOING WELL; GUESTS CAN SEE THEM TOMORROW Bailey, a 10-year-old reticulated giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, welcomed a calf to the herd today at 10:49 a.m. MT. Bailey and the baby are doing well and will be visible from a short distance to guests in the giraffe barn tomorrow, as long as mom and calf continue to appear healthy and calm. The giraffe barn will be a quiet zone for guests and staff, and if mom and baby show any signs of discomfort, the barn will be closed.

Bailey welcomed her second calf – and second daughter – to the world just one hour and 32 minutes after a group of lucky guests saw Bailey’s water break in the giraffe yard outside. The calf appears to be healthy, having met milestones its care team wants to see, like taking its first steps and nursing within the first two hours after it was born.

The calf made several attempts to stand on its own, which is normal for giraffe calves as they get the hang of their long legs. After a few stumbles, the calf maneuvered itself against a fence where it was struggling to get footing. The giraffe care team asked Bailey to move into the stall next to her baby, which she did willingly. The care team then entered the stall with the calf, picked up the calf, and moved her into the center of the stall where she managed to stay on her feet and was quickly rejoined by mom.

Because her care team needed to intervene for just a moment, they were able to confirm the calf is female. We don’t have an exact height or weight on the baby, but she appears to be a normal weight and height for a calf – close to six feet tall and around 125 pounds. Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will not be named until she is at least 30 days old.

The calf is the seventeenth member of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s reticulated giraffe herd. The calf is the seventh to be sired by dad, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED). Bailey was born at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Omaha, Neb., in March 2012 and moved to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on a breeding recommendation in Sept. 2016. CMZoo’s breeding program began in 1954 and has welcomed more than 200 calves since its inception.

The giraffe building will be closed the rest of today to allow mom and baby some quiet time to bond and nurse. The rest of the CMZoo herd will be available for viewing and feeding in the outside yard from elevated platforms, where guests can get eye-to-eye with and feed lettuce to the herd.

Tens of thousands of worldwide viewers witnessed the calf’s birth on Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s live feeds on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. The indoor live stream, at cmzoo.org/giraffecam or youtube.com/@CheyenneMtnZoo, will continue to stream live from the sand stall for about a week, where Bailey and the calf can be seen indoors. Both outdoor giraffe yard camera feeds are also available at cmzoo.org/giraffecam or youtube.com/@CheyenneMtnZoo. The Zoo will continue to provide updates on social media channels for the coming weeks.

Through Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation program, by which 75 cents of every Zoo admission is allocated to conservation, guests have helped CMZoo send more than $4 million to support important conservation efforts since 2008.

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2022, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #3 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Since 2008, CMZoo’s Quarters for Conservation program has raised $4 million dedicated to frontline conservation efforts around the world. Of the 239 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.

Bailey, a 10-year-old reticulated giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, is in active labor. The giraffe barn will remain closed and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will provide updates to media as soon as possible.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will broadcast updates from its Facebook page and YouTube live stream.

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/cmzoo
Live Birth Cam (YouTube feed): www.cmzoo.org/giraffecam
Photos of Bailey: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/09fufz7byrridj8/AADM92hN2Wu9g9ljYZF54Duqa?dl=0

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will distribute a news release with an on-site media opportunities schedule, video, photos and greater detail as soon as possible.

Background information:

The Zoo’s records show that Bailey bred with bull, Khalid (kuh-LEED’), on June 19, 2021. Giraffe pregnancies typically range between 14 and 16 months. The 15-month mark is today: October 19, 2020.

There are 16 reticulated giraffe in the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo herd. This calf would bring the number to 17.

“Giraffe calves can be fragile, so we try to encourage people to be realistic about the risks while they enjoy the excitement of the hope we know giraffe calves bring to so many,” said Jason Bredahl, African Rift Valley animal care manager. “We’re optimistic that advances in medicine, like the availability of giraffe plasma and stem cell treatments, will help us navigate any medical needs the calf may have.”

CMZoo takes precautions for the well-being of mom and calf by providing a sand-floor stall for Bailey, separate from the rest of the herd. In anticipation of the birth, Bailey was moved to a sand stall on September 19, which CMZoo staff anticipated was the earliest date Bailey could go into labor.

During the day, when the herd went outside, she remained with them in the main yard. At night, she moved to the sand stall. The sand helps mom and baby in a few ways: by preventing injury to the calf upon the five-foot drop it encounters as it’s born, by providing a more absorbent substrate that helps prevent slips for the baby’s first steps, and by providing a cushion for the calf as it learns to walk and inevitably stumbles.

Bailey was born at Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, in Omaha, Neb., in March 2012 and moved to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on a breeding recommendation in Sept. 2016. This will be Bailey’s second calf. CMZoo’s breeding program began in 1954 and has welcomed more than 200 calves since its inception.

About Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Cheyenne Mountain Zoological Society was founded in 1926. Today, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s mountain Zoo, offers comprehensive education programs, exciting conservation efforts and truly fantastic animal experiences. In 2020, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #4 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #2 Best Zoo Exhibit in North America by USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. It is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s goal to help guests fall in love with animals and nature, and take action to protect them. Of the 233 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of just a few operating without tax support. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo depends on admissions, membership dues, special event attendance and donations for funding.

We’re back with another update on Bailey, our giraffe who is due to have a baby any day now! She is not showing signs that labor is imminent – despite the very round belly we show you in this video – so we thought we’d take the opportunity to tell you a bit more about the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe.

In August, CMZoo launched a first-of-its-kind giraffe training, knowledge-sharing and giraffe emergency response program, called the International Center for the Care and Conservation of Giraffe. Dr. Liza Dadone is the senior giraffe veterinarian at The Center and Amy Schilz is the senior animal behaviorist. Learn more here.

Dr. Liza and Amy still work closely with our herd, but CMZoo has dedicated the resources to allow these two long-time CMZoo giraffe experts to share what we know with others who care for giraffe around the world.

Don’t forget, you can guess when Bailey will have her calf at https://www.cmzoo.org/guess. The person who guesses the closest day, hour and minute will win a behind-the-scenes giraffe encounter with our herd!

Welcome to the indoor giraffe training stall, where Bailey’s keeper team is giving her a pedicure of gigantic proportions! While Bailey participates, Jason, CMZoo’s African Rift Valley animal care manager, gives an update on her pregnancy progress, and how you can join in the fun at home.

Of course, this paint is vet-approved and nontoxic, and we’re doing this so she’s easier for you to spot in the herd. Bailey is a great student, and she seems to enjoy training – both the interaction and all of the crackers she’s getting. It’s also helpful for her care team to have another chance to get up close and check out that belly to see if we can see any signs that she might be getting closer to giving birth. As of right now, there are no signs of imminent labor, but that could change at any time.

If you want to guess when Bailey will give birth – any time between now and Nov. 19 – go to cmzoo.org/guess and submit the day, hour and minute you think the calf will arrive. The closest guesser will win a giraffe encounter with our herd.

Keep up with Bailey overnight by tuning into her 24/7 birth stall camera at cmzoo.org/giraffecam or on CMZoo’s YouTube channel. Join the entire herd daily from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. MT via our livestream cameras that overlook their main yard.