Denver Zoo Map
March 3, 2017


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo provides plasma from giraffes in moment of need

Denver Zoo staff has teamed with Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to support giraffe calf, Dobby. Born Tuesday, February 28, Dobby had difficulty standing and nursing. Supplemental feeding was provided and the calf did begin nursing. However, bloodwork yesterday showed the calf wasn’t able to receive enough infection-fighting proteins from his mother, Kipele Janie, in his first day of nursing. This morning, staff provided Dobby a transfusion of plasma to restore his antibody levels to normal. Zookeepers and veterinarians are trying to boost his immune system with colostrum-replacer and today’s transfusion of plasma, which was generously donated by Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

“We remain optimistic that Dobby’s health will improve. However, we are taking his condition seriously. We have also provided Dobby with antibiotics to treat infection in his system and are monitoring his blood daily,” says Denver Zoo Associate Veterinarian Betsy Stringer.

In fact, Dobby’s father, Dikembe, was born at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

"We are so happy to help a fellow zoo provide cutting-edge vet care for one of their own," says Bob Chastain, President and CEO of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. "And the fact that Dobby has ties to the giraffe herd at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo makes it even more special." 

For many years, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo staff has done voluntary training with their giraffes to have them hold still for injections and small blood samples. Recently, they were able to collect larger volumes of blood in order to bank plasma for emergency situations.

"Because of the great training by our animal care staff, we have several giraffe that are now trained to voluntarily give blood donations," says Dr. Liza Dadone, VP of Mission and Programs. "Because of that, and with donated services from Hemo Solutions, a veterinary blood processing company here in Colorado Springs, we were already able to replenish our giraffe plasma bank, just in case of any emergencies with our herd."

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.

Dobby and his mother will remain behind the scenes until he gains strength. The Zoo’s giraffe building will remain closed during their first days together to provide them peace and quiet.