Giraffe Calf Born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

July 6, 2019

CMZoo welcomes reticulated giraffe calf; mom and baby doing well

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – Msitu (muh – SEE’ – too), a 10-year-old reticulated giraffe at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, welcomed a calf to the herd at 1:20 p.m. MDT. Msitu and the baby are doing well.

Quick Calf Facts

  • The sex of the baby has not been confirmed.
  • The calf appears to be about six feet tall.
  • The calf was born at 1:20 p.m. MDT.
  • First steps were taken at 1:55 p.m. MDT.
  • The calf nursed for the first time at 3:17 p.m. MDT.

Following Cheyenne Mountain Zoo tradition, the calf will be named after he or she is 30 days old. Keepers first noticed Msitu was in labor, in the outdoor main yard, at 11:10 a.m. today. Msitu shifted inside to the birth stall, where we welcomed the baby to the herd.

The calf is the sixteenth member of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s reticulated giraffe herd. The calf is the third offspring for mom, Msitu, and the fifth to be sired by dad, Khalid (pronounced cull-EED).

The giraffe building will be closed the remainder 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, weather permitting. Assuming that mom and baby are nursing consistently and doing well, the public will be allowed limited viewing opportunities starting tomorrow.

As long as keepers observe that baby and mom are doing well, they will continue to let Msitu take the lead on providing care. 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 14 to 15 months.

Approximately ten thousand worldwide viewers witnessed the calf’s birth on Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s live camera feed, which will continue to stream live from the sand stall, where Msitu and the calf will remain for the next few days. The live stream of the birth stall, and both outdoor giraffe yard camera feeds, are available at The birth stall live camera is also available through a direct link: The Zoo will continue #MsiTuesday Facebook Live broadcasts each Tuesday afternoon, with updates on Msitu and the calf for the coming weeks.

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. Reticulated giraffe, the subspecies to which CMZoo’s herd belongs, are endangered. There are just over 11,000 mature reticulated giraffe individuals in the wild, and that population is decreasing. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the reticulated giraffe population has declined by 56% in the last thirty years.

In addition to keeping the species alive, by participating in a species survival plan and breeding a genetically diverse population in human care, CMZoo supports ongoing conservation efforts to help giraffe in the wild. To learn about the latest partnership effort to save West African giraffe in Niger, read about Operation Sahel Giraffe. 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 $2.5 million to support important conservation efforts since 2008.

CMZoo invited the public to make its own guesses about when the newest member of the CMZoo giraffe herd would be born. The person who submitted a guess with the closest correct hour, minute and date of birth will win a behind-the-scenes animal encounter with the CMZoo giraffe herd. CMZoo will notify the winner by mid-July.

Msitu was born at CMZoo in February 2009. This is Msitu’s third calf, after giving birth to Emy in August 2013 and to Rae in April 2017. Emy, a female, now lives at Peoria Zoo in Peoria, Ill. Two-year-old female Rae was the youngest member of the herd at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but her new sibling, born today, has now changed that. CMZoo’s breeding program began in 1954. This calf’s birth brings the number of reticulated giraffe in the CMZoo herd to sixteen.

Photos and video of Msitu and the calf available for media use:

Facebook Page:
Live Birth Cam (YouTube feed):

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 2019, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was voted #6 Best Zoo in North America and CMZoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild was named #5 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.