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Baby giraffe born at Detroit Zoo this week

Oct 2, 2014

  A baby giraffe was born at the Detroit Zoo on Tuesday evening. And it's a boy!

The calf arrived after a 15-month gestation period.

"When I first saw him, he was lying in the grass. And he picked his head up," said Carter. "Of course he picked up this big neck, and I was struck by how tiny and fragile he looked."

Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer at the Detroit Zoo, said this is the first live giraffe birth at the Zoo in 22 years.

And that's even though the baby giraffe weighed in at about 150 pounds and is more than five feet tall.

Carter said the five year old mother, Kivuli, is very attentive and affectionate. And the calf is already cavorting about.

Carter  said giraffes give birth standing up. And the newborn falls more than five feet, enough to break the umbilical cord. "By the time the baby falls, its head is already almost on the ground anyway because the neck is so long," he said. "So there really isn't the risk the baby is going to fall and hurt its head."

According to Carter, as long as the weather remains nice, the yet-to-be-named baby giraffe will stay outside and can be seen by the public. When it moves indoors, the public will not have access until the mother gets comfortable having zoo visitors closer to her calf.

- Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom