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Gains - not just losses - are the lot at Hogle Zoo, as officials reported Wednesday an early Christmas gift, the birth of a male giraffe.

The reticulated giraffe was born Sunday, Dec. 4, at 5:30 p.m. in the giraffe building. It weighs approximately 85 pounds and is about 5 feet 6 inches tall. As in all giraffe births, the baby was born while its mother was standing."Both mother and baby are in excellent condition and are on display in the giraffe building at the west end of the zoo," said zoo spokesman Andrew Wallace.

The zoo now has four giraffes. The other three are females. Reticulated giraffes are a species native to Africa. Daphne, a baringo giraffe, is expecting, probably sometime this month. Baringos also originated in Africa.

The latest addition, not yet named, is the offspring of Ruth and Woody, a reticulated giraffe that died Nov. 15 at the zoo.

Officials did not report the birth earlier, Wallace said, to allow time to make sure the animal was well.

"We don't like to announce the birth of an animal until the public can be allowed. We closed off the giraffe building to give mother and baby some time alone," Wallace said.

Kimberly Davidson, the zoo's general curator, said the baby giraffe remains with its mother, is nursing and looking good. They will remain together for about six to eight months, she said.

One of the cutest things about baby giraffes, she said, is that their horns are flat against their head when born. That allows the baby to slide freely through the birth canal.

The baby will depend on its mother's milk for some time before gradually eating solid foods such as hay and grains, apples, carrots and other fresh vegetables.

The newest addition may be viewed along with other animals between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Zoo gates are closed at 4:30 p.m. each day, but visitors already on the grounds may remain until 5:30 p.m. The zoo is open every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Zoo admission prices were recently reduced as a holiday gift from $5 to $3 for adults. Children ages 4 through 14 and senior citizens are $1.50, and youngsters under 4 years old are admitted free. The prices are effective through Jan. 31.