Tessa, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s four-year-old Maasai giraffe gave birth to her first calf yesterday, in her indoor stall, the zoo said in a statement released with this photo and video.
“This news is especially exciting considering that the last time the Zoo celebrated a giraffe birth was nearly 26 years ago,” the zoo added. The Cincinnati Zoo’s history with giraffe births goes back to 1889 when it became the first zoo in the Western Hemisphere to have a giraffe born in captivity, the zoo said.
“The Zoo is buzzing with excitement today with the birth of the baby giraffe,” Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo, said yesterday. “It’s been a long time, but well worth the wait. Just when you think you have seen it all, something truly amazing like this comes along reminds me how special nature truly is.”
Tessa became restless early Saturday morning, around 5 a.m., the zoo said. “Shortly thereafter, volunteers noticed the calf’s hoof coming through and immediately contacted Zoo Veterinarian and Keeper staff. Four hours later, Tessa delivered her calf at 9:40 a.m. Soon after delivery, Tessa began licking her calf and the calf first attempted to stand around 10:00 a.m. The calf successfully nursed at 11:10 a.m. Sex of the calf is unknown at this time.”
Tessa, who currently weighs approximately 1,800 pounds, came to the Cincinnati Zoo in 2008 from the Houston Zoo for the opening of the Giraffe Ridge exhibit. The father, “Kimbaumbau” (Kimba) also came to Cincinnati in 2008, from the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island.
Although the numbers have decreased in the past century, giraffes are not currently endangered, but listed as “lower risk” with fairly stable populations, Cincinnati Zoo said. “Unlike many species, there is no true breeding season for the Maasai Giraffe and females can become pregnant beginning at just four years of age. In the wild up to 75 percent of the calves die in their first few months of life, mainly due to predation.”
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.