The first moments of a baby giraffe's life

As the world waits for New York giraffe April to give birth, some are wondering what are the first few moments like for a giraffe, right after it's born.

"It's pretty amazing, when you see it," said Stephanie Fennessy, co-founder and co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia.

Fennessy says giraffes give birth standing up. 

Giraffe legs alone are about six feet long. That means giraffe babies, called "calves," can fall three feet or more, straight down, right after they're born.

"Then they slump to the ground," Fennessy said. "but they can get up in the next 20 minutes."

Video: Baby giraffe watch at New York zoo

A newborn calf can "walk very quickly and even run in their first few hours."

However giraffe calves, which are born approximately six feet tall and 150 pounds, typically don't go far.

"They normally stay with their mom for almost two years," said Fennessy, who's been observing giraffes for nearly 20 years.

Dad giraffes leave most of the child rearing to the moms. 

In the wild, females and calves tend to group together, "like a little nursery," Fennessy said, "and some moms hang out with the little ones while others go further away to find better food or water."

It helps protect the young from predators.

That's something April's calf won't have to worry about, when he or she is born at New York's Animal Adventure Park.

The calf will join the estimated 450 giraffes at zoos across the US.

In the wild, Fennessy says, giraffe numbers are dwindling. She says there are only about 100,000 giraffes left in Africa, compared to roughly 450,000 elephants in the country.

Because of habitat loss, she says the giraffe population has plummeted by almost 40 percent in 30 years.

© 2017 KING-TV


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