The Royal Baby isn't the only birth we're eagerly anticipating. Olivia, a Woodland Park Zoo giraffe, is due any day now. When the calf arrives, it'll be the tallest baby in town. Here's what the Zoo tells us:
"The 6-year-old Rothschild’s giraffe is expected to give birth any day now. With a gestation period of 14 to 15 months, Olivia’s window to give birth is pretty wide—it began June 24 and closes August 12, explained Martin Ramirez, a curator at the zoo. “Olivia’s belly is pretty big and she’s carrying low so we expect a calf any day,” said Ramirez.
Zookeepers are keeping a close watch for signs of labor which, according to Ramirez, may include restlessness, loss of appetite, or biting or licking her flanks. “We will bring Olivia into the barn and mobilize a 24-hour birth watch at the first sign of labor, and we also have a den cam installed in the barn to monitor the new family,” said Ramirez.
The last viable birth of a giraffe at the zoo was in 1997. “There’s a lot of excitement at the zoo for this baby,” said Ramirez. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a baby giraffe running on our savanna so we can’t wait.”
Giraffes give birth standing up, and the calf drops 5 feet from the ground as it is born. About 6 foot tall at birth, infants usually stand within half an hour after birth and can run around with their moms several hours later.
The father of the expected calf is 7-year-old Chioke, who passed away in January from complications associated with his gastrointestinal tract and kidneys. In addition to Olivia, the other giraffe at the zoo is Tufani, Olivia’s 5-year-old sister.
The imminent birth will be an addition to the baby boom the zoo has enjoyed over the past several months: quadruplet lions born in November, twin sloth bears in December, triplet jaguars in March, a porcupine in April, and four Asian small-clawed otters in June. Visit www.zoo.org/zoobabies to learn about these new ambassadors for the zoo.
The population of giraffes has declined by more than 40% over the past 15 years with current estimates of only 80,000 individuals remaining in Africa. Among the nine subspecies of giraffes, the West African and Rothschild’s are endangered, with fewer than 250 and more than 670, respectively, remaining in the wild. Giraffes face a number of threats including poaching, habitat loss for their feeding ranges, and the soaring human population growth.
Zoo summer hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org or call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY).
Online ticketing: avoid lines and buy your general admission tickets in advance at www.zoo.org/visit. Discounts and coupons are not applicable for online ticket purchases."