NORFOLK, Va. – The Virginia Zoo had an extra special Christmas surprise this year!
They originally announced that a baby giraffe was coming in 2022, but the calf came early.
The Masai giraffe calf was born on Dec. 28 before Zoo Keepers arrived. At birth, the baby weighed 159 pounds, and stood five-feet-nine-inches tall.
This is the third calf for mom, Noelle, and fourteenth for dad, Billy.
A neonatal exam was performed 24 hours after the birth by the Zoo’s veterinarian, general curator, zoo keepers and veterinary technicians. The exam revealed the calf is a male.
Mom and baby are bonding, and the calf is nursing well, the Zoo said. He appears strong and is already learning to run.
This birth brings the herd total to six, but not for long. The Virginia Zoo said Kylie and Tiana who were born in 2019 and 2021, respectively, will soon be leaving for their new home in Florida.
That will leave new mom, eight-year-old Noelle and her calf, 20-year-old Billy and 19-year-old Imara.
The breeding of Billy and Noelle is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for Masai giraffes.
Masai giraffes are currently listed as endangered due to habitat loss and poaching, so the birth of this newest calf is especially important.
Right now, the Zoo said the calf and Noelle can be seen in their night barn from the Africa – Okavango Delta boardwalk.