October 7, 2010 It’s been an exciting week for staff and visitors alike at Global Wildlife Center. Saturday, October 2, Kameel, the first giraffe born at Global Wildlife Center, gave birth to a healthy female calf, “Maci.” Just 4 days later, Zira, also one of Kameel’s offspring, gave birth to another female calf, making “Maggie” a third generation giraffe born at the Center.
Staff members have been anxiously awaiting the baby giraffes for months. The birth of a female gives extra cause for celebration, because female giraffes can live their entire lives at Global Wildlife Center. Male calves must be moved to another facility before breeding age.
These calves are the first offspring from John, a male giraffe that replaced the patriarch of the reticulated giraffe family, Slim, upon his death in 2009. There was some question in the beginning as to whether the babies were fathered by Slim or John. Now, staffers are sure John is the father, and according to Wes Thompson, Operations Manager, “John must have some great genes!”
Both Maci and Maggie were standing within 30 minutes, less than half the time it has taken previous baby giraffes at the Center to find their feet. They are extremely active and curious for their young age. Normally baby giraffes go through a “lying out” period, during which they spend the first two weeks of their life resting, so that all of their energy is channeled toward growth.
Both baby giraffes have been spending an unusual amount of time up and walking about, exploring their new surroundings at Global Wildlife Center. Both babies’ first days were action packed - Maci had a great time chasing an eland around a tree, and Maggie ran right up to several tours. The babies have met once, and stayed together about an hour, smelling and licking each other. Afterward, they moved back toward their mothers and their respective resting places.
Many visitors to Global Wildlife Center this past week have been lucky enough to see the babies, who are both free-roaming the wildlife preserve with their reticulated giraffe family. Staff members expect the two babies to become fast friends as they get older. In the wild, baby giraffes will stay close to their mothers for the first few weeks, then join a crèche, or a group of young giraffes.
Baby giraffes are born after a 15 month gestation period, and are around six feet tall and 150 lbs. at birth. The mother giraffe gives birth standing up, and the baby falls approximately six feet to the ground when it’s born.