IT’S A BOY! Meet our long-legged baby

Mother Chrystal licks her newborn calf just moments after his birth Sunday, encouraging him to stand and nurse./Dallas Zoo

Mother Chrystal licks her newborn calf just moments after his birth Sunday, encouraging him to stand and nurse./Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo has welcomed a leggy, 6-foot-tall baby giraffe, born Sunday to first-time mother Chrystal. The energetic male calf weighs about 120 pounds and appears to be healthy.

His arrival wasn’t without excitement. Giraffe keepers and the veterinary team had closely monitored the pregnancy, including using ultrasounds, and were prepared. When 6-year-old Chrystal’s labor halted after about two hours, the team quickly moved her into a special, custom-built chute in the giraffe barn. There, keepers were able to restrain her without using anesthesia, a risk they wanted to avoid for the health of both mom and calf.

With Chrystal safely ensconced in the chute, the veterinary team moved in quickly. Jan Raines, D.V.M., determined that the calf’s head and neck were positioned to the side of the front legs, instead of aligned with them. Raines was able to move the calf’s head and neck into the correct position, and Lynn Kramer, D.V.M., and the giraffe keeper team delivered the newborn. They gently lowered it more than 6 feet to the ground. Then they moved the calf into the barn’s maternity stall, equipped with extra layers of soft sand and overhead video cameras. Chrystal immediately joined the calf, licking him and nudging him. Soon he stood on wobbly new legs, and began to nurse shortly after.

“The chute and our team’s training definitely paid off, allowing us to provide excellent emergency care to Chrystal and the calf,” said Kramer, who is also the Dallas Zoo’s vice president of animal operations and welfare.

“A new giraffe is always a reason to celebrate,” Kramer added. “They’re remarkable animals, and are seriously threatened in the wild. Conservation is a key mission of our zoo, and this calf’s birth will allow us to offer a timely teaching message about the efforts being made on their behalf.”

The team swung into action at the first signs of labor Sunday afternoon, said giraffe supervisor Lisa Fitzgerald.

Jan Raines, D.V.M., checking out the calf shortly after the delivery./Dallas Zoo

Jan Raines, D.V.M., checking out the calf shortly after the delivery./Dallas Zoo

“We were keeping a close eye on Chrystal,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been three years since we had a calf, so our team is quite excited. Caring for a newborn this big is always a challenge, but it’s one that we love.”

Zoo staffers are now observing to ensure the calf is nursing and meeting appropriate developmental milestones. The calf could go out into the feeding habitat, with limited access, as soon as next week. For about three months, the baby and Chrystal will stay indoors together during the evening, until the calf is big enough to be with the herd at nighttime.

The calf is a reticulated giraffe, a species with fewer than 4,700 left in the wild, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The father is the gregarious Tebogo, one of the Dallas Zoo’s most popular residents.

Tebogo is the zoo’s only breeding male under the Giraffe Species Survival Plan’s (SSP) program to ensure genetic diversity within endangered species. Tebogo also is the father of the last giraffe calf born at the Dallas Zoo, Jamie, born to Katie in July 2011.

The new calf stuck close to mom Chrystal’s side on Tuesday./Dallas Zoo

The new calf stuck close to mom Chrystal’s side on Tuesday./Dallas Zoo

The Dallas Zoo 12-member giraffe herd is now one of the largest in the nation, with six males and six females. Their ages range from the newborn to the oldest, Auggie, who is 12. They recently received national coverage in a web series by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. Camera crews followed the herd around the habitat for several days, showing viewers why these gentle giants are so remarkable.

The giraffes live in the Giants of the Savanna, an award-winning 11-acre habitat in the heart of America’s blackland prairie. The Savanna is the only habitat in the United States where giraffes mingle alongside African elephants, impalas, zebras, ostriches and other animals, as they would in the wild. Eventually the calf will integrate with these other animals.


Watch this sweet video of Chrystal and her baby bonding after birth.



Categories: Uncategorized | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “IT’S A BOY! Meet our long-legged baby

  1. lorrie dorman

    I think you should name it Dallas or Cowboy for obvious reasons. He is so adorable

    • Lydia Jennings

      Great name suggestions, Lorrie! Naming him will be an auction item at our annual fundraising gala, Zoo To Do Saturday night! Bidding will start at $25,000 and all proceeds will go directly to giraffe conservation in Africa. We’ll keep you posted here on ZooHoo!

  2. You need to name your new baby Scooter. My son is Scooter and his wife is Crystal and his 2 daughters names are Jade and Jaime !!! When we came we were so amazed about the names and my granddaughter loves giraffes. Please name baby Scooter !!!

  3. jose cuevas

    I think you should name him Bigben,bigdaddy, or tony.

  4. Bailey

    I think u should name him Too Tall Jones

  5. Lyndi

    Please, please, please name him Chandelier!

  6. Lyndi

    Please, please, please name him Chandelier. Can you imagine a more appropriate name? Illuminating overhead. Chrystal’s Chandelier….

  7. Angela Dennis

    The first name that came to mind was “CYRUS”. Chrystal and Cyrus!

  8. Kimberley Frank

    Congratulations on a beautiful new addition to the Zoo!

    These are african/swahili possible baby names:

    * Uzuri or Mrembo – beautiful
    * Upendo wa milele – English equivalent would be “Eternal love”
    * Furaha – Happy or Joy

  9. Well I Don’t have $25,000 but feel this Special Giraffe should have an African Name to be of its original Land. Here are a few that You may think about if you use them Great! If Not I hope it’s just a meaningful strong Name. Baby Giraffe Names

    BAAKO. Unisex. An African name, meaning “first-born,” from the vocabulary word baako (one). (A Grammatical Sketch of the Akra- or Ga-Language, Zimmerman, v.2, 1858).
    Baako, a fictional character in Fragments (1971), a novel by Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah. (Wiki)

    BARAKA. African Swahili name, meaning “blessing.” (Swahili-English Dictionary, Madan, 1903). Baraka also means “blessing” in Hebrew and Arabic. See Barakat.

    MOSI. African Swahili name for a “firstborn child,” from mosi (first; the number one). (Swahili-English Dictionary, Madan, 1903).

    ZURI. Unisex. African. From the Swahili word zuri, meaning “beautiful.” (English-Swahili Dictionary, Madan, 1902)

    KWASI. African Akan name, meaning “born on Sunday.” (The Gold Coast, Past and Present, Macdonald, 1898)

    NTHANDA. Unisex. African. From the Ci-nyanja word nthanda, meaning “Star.” (British Central Africa, Johnston, 1897).
    Thank You. Much Love Always. Many Blessings. Doksha

  10. I think the baby should be called “Tourmaline”. This is the birthstone for October. I figured with his mother’s name, he shou
    ld have a ‘gem’ of a name.

  11. Gene Battey

    I hope the auction winner saw the cooments on the WFAA FB posting of the birth. Naming him Christopher in honor of the autistic “Baby Giraffe” boy would be such an honor for him.

  12. David

    My Granddaughter Thalia would like to name it Spots…

  13. Heather Gerbitz

    When can we see him?

  14. Gwen Reese

    He looks like an (Owen) to me. Crystal and Owen

  15. Gwen Reese

    He looks like an (Owen) to me. Crystal and Owen

  16. Faizah Mohamed

    Hi… I heard the baby giraffe naming rights sold for $50,000! Any ideas what is his new name now? (^_^)

  17. Alexandre

    When will the baby boy be out for public visiting? We are excited about this great news!

  18. lynn bowman

    Camdon is a good name.

  19. Sharon Sallis

    Taft,Tags,Taffy, Stretch, just a few names, He’s Beautiful!!

  20. Dovie Williams

    How about Bentley

  21. Scarlett

    Name the new giraffe _Blueberry

  22. Chloe

    i think it should b called “little foot”, “Kevin” or “jaxson”

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