BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore says the first giraffe calf born there in more than 20 years was delivered by 4-year-old Juma on Monday, Feb. 6.
Eleven-year-old Caesar is the female calf’s father. The calf, is a baby girl. So far she has no name.
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome this beautiful calf to the Zoo family,” said Don Hutchinson, president/CEO of the Zoo. “She will bring a lot of excitement to the Giraffe House and make a wonderful addition to the herd.”
Juma went into labor at approximately 3 p.m. that day and the calf was born at 4:35 p.m.
“Standing is one of the first major milestones for a newborn giraffe, and she was able to fully stand on her own in just 50 minutes,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager. “It’s safe to say that we were all silently cheering her on and were very excited to see her up on four legs.”
“Juma is an amazing mother,” according to Cantwell. “Her instincts are on target. She is very attentive and has been very patient with the calf as she learns to nurse. Mother and calf are bonding well and appear to be settling into their new routine with ease. All the other giraffes are curious about this new addition — it’s fun to watch them watching the calf.”
“Her body size is impressive. She’s a 6-foot-1 baby and she came out weighing 125 pounds at the start,” said general curator Mike McClure.
“Health-wise everything looks pretty perfect so far,” says Samantha Sander, associate veterinarian. “All signs so far indicate we have a very healthy and strong female calf, and certainly an excellent mom.”
Juma and the calf will not be immediately visible to Zoo guests.
“We want to observe them and their interactions with the rest of the herd in a quiet setting for a little while longer,” concluded Cantwell. “Juma is a first-time mother and we want to ensure that we introduce her calf to the public in a way that keeps everyone comfortable and at ease.”
Making sure the baby is ready for visitors come spring.
If you’re wondering how long it takes to grow a 6-foot baby, a giraffe pregnancy lasts 15 months.
To help name the baby, visit www.marylandzoo.org/giraffename.
The name choices were selected by the Giraffe House animal care team members. They are:
Imara (ee MAH rah) – which means strong, resolute in Swahili
Safara (sah FAR ah) – a name of African origin which means fire
Willow – willow trees are slender and graceful, like the newborn calf
Ruby – because she’s a rare and precious gem
Opal – a name from Sanskrit literally meaning “jewel”
Dottie – because she has a dark dot positioned just above each hoof