Kicking Up Her Heels: Giraffe Calf Makes Debut

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Baby GiraffeA 10-day-old female Masai giraffe at the San Diego Zoo took her first venture around her exhibit this morning, Dec. 31, 2013, meeting other members of her herd and running, kicking and appearing very comfortable with her new surroundings. The calf was born in the early hours of Dec. 22 and, until today, has been in a restricted “playpen” area of the habitat until animal care staff felt she was old enough to venture into the larger space.

Keepers report the calf is healthy and progressing very well, even though she is still getting used to her legs, evidenced by a few spills taken during her morning run. The lanky youngster weighed in at 157 pounds at birth, and stood 6 feet 1 inch tall; she may weigh as much as 500 pounds and stand 7 to 7-and-a-half-feet tall by the time she is 6 months old.

Masai giraffes are native to Africa and are threatened in some areas. Also known as the Kilimanjaro giraffe, the Masai giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies and tallest land mammal on Earth.

This is the 10th calf born to her mother, Bahati; the father is the herd sire, Silver. Other giraffes in the herd include two adult females and a female youngster born last May. Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can see the active and curious giraffe calf, yet to be named, on exhibit in the Urban Jungle.