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Zoo provides supplemental feeding for under-sized calf who has now begun nursing
Denver Zoo quietly welcomed the birth of Dobby, a male, reticulated giraffe, on the morning of Tuesday, February 28, as millions of people waited for a giraffe to be born in New York to viral sensation April. Dobby was born to mother Kipele (kih-PAY-lay) at 3 a.m., measuring 5-feet-tall and weighing 73 pounds, both small figures for a newborn giraffe.
“Staff was monitoring Kipele overnight when she went into labor. Although the birth went well, the calf was not initially nursing. Staff fed the infant and provided critical care in his first hours of life to get him back on track. Now he’s nursing and we are feeling good about his health,” said Brian Aucone, Denver Zoo Senior Vice President for Animal Care & Conservation.
Mother and baby are resting and bonding in the Zoo’s giraffe building and are not yet viewable to the public. The building will remain closed during their first days together to provide them peace and quiet.
Zookeepers and veterinarians did not know until recently that Kipele was pregnant. Zookeepers suspected she might be pregnant, despite birth control, because her stomach and udder were becoming larger. She initially resisted attempts from veterinarians to perform ultrasounds, but eventually allowed the zookeepers she interacts with every day to place the ultrasound probe on her abdomen, while veterinarians monitored and guided from another room. Working together, they were able to verify that Kipele was pregnant with a due date of late February or early March.
“This was certainly a welcome addition to the Denver Zoo family,” said Aucone. "Dobby may not have been a planned birth, but now that he's here, we're excited to have him and look forward to him engaging with our guests."
Kipele was born at Denver Zoo in August 1993, and is the oldest of the Zoo’s giraffes. Dikembe, Dobby’s father, was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in December 1993, and arrived at Denver Zoo in February 1996. Along with adult females Masika (mah-SEE-kah) and Heshimu (HEH-shih-moo), this new calf brings the Zoo’s giraffe herd to five. Dobby is also the first giraffe birth at Denver Zoo since October 2010.
Denver Zoo giraffe caretakers have more than 50 years of experience caring for these majestic creatures. Giraffes have been a member of the Zoo family since 1973. More than 70 giraffes have been born and raised at the Zoo.
Giraffes are born after a 15-month gestation period. The calf will nurse on his mother’s milk for approximately six months, at which time he will be weaned. During the first two years of a giraffe’s life, it doubles its height to be almost 12-feet tall.
Giraffes are the world’s tallest land mammal and can grow up to 17-feet tall. An adult female is between 1,540 to 2,600 pounds and adult males range from 2,420 to 4,215 pounds. Like human fingerprints, the markings of a giraffe’s coat are unique to each individual. Reticulated giraffes are native to the dry savannahs and open woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa