Q&A: Katie’s calf is here! Now what?

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Katie and baby 1 4x6 logoWe’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and interest in our viral star Katie and her sweet baby girl. It’s hard to put it into words how incredible this entire “Giraffe Birth Live” experience has been for the Dallas Zoo. We’re honored to have partnered with Animal Planet to show you the miracle of life as it unfolded live on your television screens.

While we’re trying to respond to as many of you as possible on social media, we may miss a few of your questions and comments. Here are the answers to the questions we’re receiving most.

Q. This was amazing. Why did you do this? We believe the public benefits from seeing what goes on behind the scenes at a leading, accredited U.S. zoo. We’re extremely proud of our animal and veterinary teams, and the excellent, dedicated care they provide. Showing this birth also allowed us to teach about giraffes, including how threatened they are in Africa. We hope that will convince more people to get involved in conservation efforts with the groups with which we partner to help preserve giraffes in the wild.

Q: How can I help save wild giraffes? Please make a donation to our giraffe conservation partner that’s helping save giraffes in the wild. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is at the forefront of protecting giraffe (sub)species in Africa. Click HERE to make a donation. Please follow them on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Q: Now that Katie’s baby is here, when can we see her in person? Spring is here, which means rain in Texas! In a perfect world, the baby would go out within a week of birth to the giraffe feeding yard in the Giants of the Savanna habitat. However, the rainy weather is stalling that plan. Keepers have to wait until the habitat is no longer muddy for the baby to safely roam the area (she’s quite the runner already!).

As soon as the rain subsides and the ground is dry, the baby will go out for you to meet. When that time comes, the baby will be out on select days during nice weather. We’ll share those times with you on Facebook, Twitter and on the ZooHoo! blog, but it’s always a safe bet to call before you visit, so you’re not disappointed.

Q: For those who don’t live in Texas, how can we see the baby’s first day in the habitat? Our video/photography team will capture the baby’s first day out as she meets the public. We will definitely share this on social media!

Katie and baby 3 4x6 logoQ: It looks like Katie isn’t letting her baby to nurse enough. What’s happening? This is normal giraffe behavior. The average calf nurse is just 66 seconds, and can often be less than 10 seconds! Giraffes are built to survive in the wild, which means the calves have to get a quick mouthful of milk and move on because of predators. These guys are naturally on constant alert. Compared to cow’s milk, giraffe’s milk has more fat, protein and less lactose. Each squirt of giraffe milk is extremely nutritious for the calf. The calf’s feedings look great to keepers, who are monitoring all activity.

Q: When can Katie get some fresh air? Katie and her calf were scheduled to go outside into the outdoor area that’s not in public view today (Monday), but the rain changed that. (We can’t take a risk of the baby falling in the mud!) You may see Katie pacing in the maternity stall because she wants to go outside, but right now she has to do what’s best for baby. As soon as our keepers feel the outdoor space is safe, they’ll let the two roam in that area.

Q: How is the baby going to be named? Our giraffe keepers are selecting three names. We have a recent policy of naming our animals after their native country — for example, calf Kopano’s name means “united” in Botswana — to further conservation messaging and to show respect for their wild brethren. We will open up the name selection to a public vote later this week on our website.

Q: When will the Animal Planet cameras be taken down? We don’t have a date yet, but it will in all likelihood be this week. Once Katie and the calf head outside more often, there will be less to see!

Q: When will the other giraffes meet the baby? Giraffe Auggie will be the first introduced; he’ll also be the only giraffe to go out into the feeding yard with her and Katie. Auggie is our 14-year-old gentle giant; he’s the most calm, patient and mature giraffe in the herd. The calf will slowly meet the other members of the herd as she grows. Jade, Katie’s good pal, will be the first female to meet the calf, and 4-year-old sister Jamie will probably be the last female to meet the calf, to avoid “jealous big sister syndrome.”

Q: Does father Tebogo recognize his offspring? Tebogo is interested in them, but there’s no way of telling if he knows they’re his children. He enjoys sniffing and licking them through the mesh, though.

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Nutrition, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Q&A: Katie’s calf is here! Now what?

  1. deborah

    I think she should be named April

    Thank you,

  2. Hannah Mary

    Do you think animal planet will put cameras up where we can see the giraffes?

  3. Judy Woodbury

    So glad you address the nursing (or lack thereof). I was concerned that baby was not getting enough nutrition from Katie. Silly me…I should have known Katie would never deny the baby anything she needed. She is a good mother, but I think she (and you) are going to have your hands full with that little one. She’s already really spunky and seems to have some attitude. Love her, love Katie…love the keepers, love Dallas Zoo!!!

  4. Virginia Bacon

    Is there any way to get a biography and picture of each giraffe so we can recognize them? I don’t know what I’ll do when cameras are taken down. I’ll be heartbroken.

  5. susan

    How does Katie react when the zookeepers need to do an exam etc on her calf? Are they seperated or kept together during this time? Also, do the caregivers get to spend time with the giraffes for petting etc… watching from Ga I just want to hug them both!!! Absolutely loving this experience, Thank You!!!!

    • Lydia Jennings

      Katie and baby were only separated for a short period of time during the well-baby check when she was 2-days-old. She won’t need to be examined again for quite some time. The keepers do give the animals lots of love through the mesh, and in other areas of the barn. But because we’re a protected contact zoo, our keepers are never in the same space with a potentially dangerous animal without a barrier between them. At our giraffe feeding platform, guests can touch and feed the giraffes!

  6. nicole

    My 9yrs old son & i are in love with Katie & calf. We were also concerned about her nursing but assumed that’s what it was. I don’t know why we were ever concerned though, because she is growing so healthy, strong & tall. Katie is such a great mom & we love watching the two of them bonding. What a special thing to witness live. We will be very sad when they take the live feed down.

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