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Hogle Zoo welcomes baby giraffe

First-time mother gives birth to baby giraffe at Hogle Zoo

Hogle Zoo has another new arrival — an approximately 120-pound, 6-foot-2 male giraffe born Thursday.

The first-time parents are Kipenzi, 6-year-old female, and Riley, a 6-year-old male.

Kipenzi went into labor just before noon Thursday. By about 12:30 p.m., she had successfully delivered her first baby. Less than an hour later, the baby giraffe was standing for the first time.

"The delivery went very well," said Nancy Carpenter, associate director for animal health. "It took about an hour and a half from start to finish. Shortly after birth, the giraffe was working to stand, and it already seems that Kipenzi is a good mom who is bonding well with her baby."

Giraffes have no specific breeding season and give birth after a gestation of about 14 months to 15 months.

According to Holly Braithwaite, zoo spokeswoman, Kipenzi soon took her new baby outdoors in the yard, which she shares with another female giraffe.

Right now, the baby seems small next to the full-sized giraffes, but during its first week of life will grow nearly 1 inch per day. Giraffes also can also run before they are 24 hours old.

Adult males usually reach about 17 feet tall, weighing as much as 3,000 pounds, with necks that can measure 61/2 feet long. The pattern of spots on every giraffe is unique and is used to tell one from another. Hogle Zoo now has five giraffes.

Braithwaite said the odds are pretty good that most zoo patrons will be able to see the newborn. However, the baby animal can only be seen when he is outside — his inside quarters are currently private. She said as long as there are no problems with the mother being too protective against the many on-lookers, the current public viewing option will continue.

It is yet to be determined if the new giraffe, who is being nursed by his mother, will remain at Hogle Zoo. A giraffe born in November 2007 ended up at another zoo. A name for the new giraffe is also up in the air.

Braithwaite said the cutest glimpse she had of the new giraffe was while he was sleeping standing up. Even though all giraffes sleep that way, she said the baby looked really cool.

Hogle Zoo already has a baby snow leopard on display. Born in May, the cat made its first public appearance in mid-July.

Also, 7,900-pound Christie, an African elephant, is expected to deliver a baby in August.