DALLAS — It’s a long-legged boy for the Dallas Zoo! One of the giraffes, Chrystal, became a first-time mother, welcoming a 120 pound boy Sunday.
The calf was born in a specially designed chute in the giraffe barn, where doctors were able to restrain Chrystal, 6, without anesthesia. Jan Raines, DVM determined the calf’s head and neck were positioned to the side of the front legs, instead of aligned with them. Raines was able to move the calf into position, allowing Lynn Kramer, DVM and the giraffe keeper team to deliver the newborn.
“The chute and our team’s training definitely paid off, allowing us to provide excellent emergency care to Chrystal and the calf,” said Kramer, who is also the Dallas Zoo’s vice president of animal operations and welfare.
The calf was then moved to a maternity stall equipped with extra layers of soft sand. The new mother immediately joined her son, licking and nudging him as he soon stood on wobbly new legs before beginning to nurse.
“A new giraffe is always a reason to celebrate,” Kramer added. “They’re remarkable animals, and are seriously threatened in the wild. Conservation is a key mission of our zoo, and this calf’s birth will allow us to offer a timely teaching message about the efforts being made on their behalf.”
It’s been three years since the zoo had a new giraffe calf; the team says caring for such a big newborn is a challenge they love. The team will monitor the calf for development and if all goes well, it may appear in the feeding habitat as early as next week, with limited access.
There are fewer than 4,700 of the calf’s species, reticulated giraffe, left in the wild, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
The new father is Tebogo, is one of the zoo’s most popular animals; he is the only breeding male under the Giraffe Species Survival Plan, a program ensuring genetic diversity in endangered species. Tebogo is also father to three-year-old Katie, born in July 2011.
With a herd of 12 now, the Dallas Zoo has one of the largest herds in the nation, with seven males and five females, ranging in age from this newborn to Auggie, who is 12.
The herd lives in the Giants of Savana exhibit at the zoo, the only habitat in the U.S. were giraffes mingle with African elephants, impalas, zebras, ostriches, and other animals.