The public can get a peek at the largest baby giraffe ever born at Niabi Zoo starting today.|
Weighing in at 152 pounds and brushing just over 6 feet tall, the male giraffe was born at 3 a.m. June 1. His parents are 6-year-old Twiga and Kenya, who have been at the zoo since 2007.
"He was the heaviest and the tallest baby we've had," interim zoo director Marc Heinzman said, adding that most giraffes weigh 100 to 150 pounds at birth. The past three giraffe calves born at Niabi -- a male in 2009, one female in 2010 and another in 2011-- all have weighed about 100 pounds.
Mr. Heinzman said a typical giraffe pregnancy lasts 13 to 16 months, so zoo officials weren't sure when to expect the new baby.
"We kept thinking 'any day now she is going to have this baby,' and we said that for about two months," he said.
Besides some discomfort from nearly doubling her width during pregnancy, Twiga's pregnancy and delivery went without a hitch, Mr. Heinzman said. This was Twiga's second pregnancy. Her daughter, Zuri, was born April 10, 2010.
Twiga and her new baby are doing well and the young calf has been seen running around. "We've had them together just so they've had time to bond and get to know each other," he said.
Although no official start date has been announced, the zoo will host a naming contest for the new giraffe, Mr. Heinzman said.
The staff at Niabi Zoo will select three names, and zoo visitors can vote for their favorite with "pocket change," Mr. Heinzman said, adding that the name that draws the most money will be the winner. Proceeds from the naming contest will go towards Niabi's new elephant exhibit.
Mr. Heinzman said he expects the new calf to be immensely popular with Niabi visitors. "They're adorable animals. I'm sure they're gong to love him."
East moline, IL Details
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