The Chicago Zoological Society welcomed its newest member early Saturday, announcing the birth of a bouncing baby giraffe after nearly 15 months of Brookfield Zoo staff being on baby watch.
Arnieta, a 16-year-old giraffe living at Brookfield Zoo, endured an hour of labor and gave birth to a female calf, who stands at about 6 feet tall and weighs close to 130 pounds. Both mother and daughter are expected to make their public debut in early September, the zoo said Monday.
The zoo said it provided constant monitoring to the giraffe following two miscarriages in 2021 and 2022, which staff members said may have been caused by a lack of hormone production or a possible infection.
Arnieta received a daily regimen of medications about a third of the way into her pregnancy to ensure she was able to carry her calf to term, the zoo said.
The calf’s sire is 7-year-old Ato, who arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2017. This is his first offspring.
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“Every birth/hatch at the zoo is a very big deal — from a Guam kingfisher to a giraffe — and includes a lengthy birth plan with pre-partum and postpartum considerations. Arnieta’s birth plan is no exception,” said Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer, a senior staff veterinarian.
A calf is born while the mother is standing up — falling about 5 feet to the ground — and is able to gain its footing within an hour after birth.
For the first month or two, the calf is relatively inactive, mostly standing, looking around and nursing, the zoo said.
Due to predation, the mortality rate of wild-born giraffe calves is more than 50 percent, according to the zoo. And the Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimates that only about 16,000 reticulated giraffes remain in their native habitat, which includes parts of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
“We are so excited to welcome this new addition and look forward to our guests coming out to see her,” said Joan Daniels, senior director of hooved mammal care and conservation for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “We hope the collaborative efforts and knowledge gained in caring for Arnieta during her pregnancy will be useful in helping other species with similar reproductive complications have successful births in professional care,” Daniels said.