Keepers say giraffe Katie is one of the most beautiful girls in the herd. /Dallas Zoo

Keepers say giraffe Katie is one of the most beautiful girls in the herd. /Dallas Zoo

You have questions, we have answers! We couldn’t be more proud to team up with Animal Planet television network on a remarkable project, as we live-stream and televise a giraffe birth for the first time. Our Katie, already a mom to calf Jamie back in 2011, is a special girl, with gorgeous looks and a sweet personality.

We’re answering your questions on Twitter and Facebook, but we’ve also put together this Q&A to help you understand everything about “Giraffe Birth Live.”

Q: What’s happening, and why? We are partnering with Animal Planet to show you the birth of a new calf to Katie, one of our 12 giraffes. The animal husbandry expertise of our giraffe keepers and veterinary team are superb, and we’re proud of the incredible work they do. We’ve chosen to pull back the curtain a bit so you can see how much our staff cares about our animals, and how dedicated they are to caring for them.

Q: What will we see? Right now, you can watch Katie in her maternity stall on the web at apl.tv/giraffe. When she goes into labor, you’ll be able to watch the birth unfold there. Animal Planet also plans to interrupt their live TV network if possible.

Q: How has Katie reacted to the cameras? We have taken great pains over the past several months with this process. Giraffes are very inquisitive and have excellent eyesight, so they see even the smallest changes in their world. And our animal staff are not shy about protecting the giraffes! They oversaw all installations and had veto power over any part of the process that they felt might cause stress to the giraffes.

We installed all equipment – from the 10 cameras down to single cables – very slowly and gradually and gave the herd time to get used to them well before the birth window hit. Katie was curious about some of the cameras at first, but never seemed stressed, and now she just ignores them.

Q: When is Katie’s due date? The window for birth is now to early May, but we think it will be before May. She could have the calf any day now.

Q: How long is a giraffe’s gestational period? About 15 months.

Q: Where is Katie when she’s not on camera? She’s outside enjoying the Texas sun and walking around, which is really good for her. This outdoor area isn’t in public view or on camera.

Q: Why aren’t there cameras outside? The eight special cameras installed by Animal Planet are focused solely on the maternity stall, since that is where the main event will occur. These multiple cameras allow Animal Planet to show several angles of the birth.

Q: What if Katie goes into labor outside? When she’s outside, our keepers monitor her constantly. If they see signs of labor, the keepers will move her back into the maternity stall.

Q: Can I see Katie right now in the Giants of the Savanna habitat? No, Katie is not out in the exhibit. Now that she’s so close to delivering, she’s no longer in those public areas so we can keep a closer eye on her.

Q: How much notice will you give viewers so we can see the birth? As much as we can! Giraffe labor can take several hours, or it could happen quickly. We’re hoping to give you several hours of notice before the calf arrives, but it depends on Katie! We recommend signing up for text alerts on the Animal Planet website, at apl.tv/giraffe. Look to the right under “Birth Alerts and More.”

Katie and her first calf Jamie share a sweet moment in 2011./Dallas Zoo

Katie and her first calf Jamie share a sweet moment in 2011./Dallas Zoo

Q: What happens if Katie delivers in the middle of the night and we miss seeing it? Animal Planet plans to air a special show later, which will show you the prenatal care Katie received, how her keepers care for her and the other giraffes, and how the birth unfolded. We’ll share on our social media when we find out when it will air (most likely very soon after the birth).

Q: What time does Katie come in for the night? Katie is usually in her maternity stall each evening around 5 p.m. CDT for dinner.

Q: Is anyone monitoring Katie in the middle of the night? Yes, the keepers are watching her around the clock. Our nine-member giraffe team takes turns monitoring the Zoo’s overhead cameras from their homes via their cellphone or computer. Night keepers also check on Katie in the giraffe barn. (And actually, we’re all so excited about this that many other staffers are watching, too!)

Q: What if something goes wrong during the delivery? With any birth – people OR animals – that’s always a risk, although our teams have performed much prenatal care to minimize it. Our veterinarians are on call 24/7, and they and the keepers stand ready to assist if needed. In that case, Katie is trained walk into the giraffe restraint device (GRD), a special padded, custom-built chute where the team will be able to safely help with the delivery. There, keepers can help her without using anesthesia, a risk we always try to avoid for the health of both mom and calf.

Q: Why is Katie in her own stall? Katie needs her own space to safely deliver the calf, since we have a large (and curious!) herd. While they won’t try to hurt the calf, some of them weigh up to 2,500 pounds, and we don’t want to risk them stepping on it. The maternity stall is specially equipped with extra layers of soft sand for Katie’s comfort and as a cushion for the baby when he/she drops 6 feet at birth. (You’ll notice her dedicated keepers cleaning her stall daily on the webcam.) After the birth, the separate stall also provides a safe space for mother-calf bonding.

Q: Who are the other giraffes next to Katie’s stall? There are 11 other giraffes who could be checking on Katie – including our youngest, Kopano, who was born in October. All are curious, especially her pal Jade, who’s often seen peeking over.

Q: Who is the baby’s father? The proud papa-to-be is Tebogo. He’s our only breeding male under the Giraffe Species Survival Plan’s (SSP) program to ensure genetic diversity within this threatened species. Tebogo also is the father of Kopano as well as 4-year-old Jamie, who was Katie’s first baby.

Q: Why does the Animal Planet webcam periodically go black? It goes off now and then while Animal Planet makes technical updates or switches between camera feeds.

If you have other questions, please post them and we’ll do our best to respond. We’re thrilled to show you the effort, skill and dedication our staff provides. This partnership with Animal Planet will give the world a better perspective on the responsibility we shoulder as an accredited zoological park. We’re seeing your support on social media and we thank you for taking such great interest in this special birth.

Q: When did you start this project? We first began talking about it last September, so it’s been a very involved process.

Q: How does the staff like it? The keepers and supervisors in the animal department have been amazing. It’s certainly added to their workload, and many people wouldn’t like having cameras on them as they do their daily work. However, they are so dedicated to giraffes and to conservation efforts on their behalf. And they realize that by showing this type of program, we can help people understand the need to support conservation efforts in Africa, as we do, and the need for the work done at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. So the team has been incredibly cooperative. They’re the best!

As for our PR team… well, don’t ask about the PR team.

Please click HERE for Animal Planet’s Q&A. (And don’t forget to sign up HERE for the “Katie’s about to have her baby” text and email alert.)

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Education, Giraffe, Mammals, Media, Social Media, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Q&A: GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE

  1. Cindy

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing career with the world. It is especially nice to see people who obviously love their job and do their job so thoroughly with care. The giraffes at the Dallas Zoo are very blessed to have you all as their caretakers and we are very lucky to be able to be the proverbial “fly on the wall.” I teach Kindergarten and can’t wait to share this amazing opportunity with my young charges. Who knows, together we might be inspiring some future giraffe caretakers!

  2. Dottie Crosby

    I am a foster mom to 4 beautiful little Hispanic girls who have lived a very underprivileged life. The amount of things they do not know about life is astounding to me, never went to a walk in theatre, never had Christmas, it just amazes me. We are watching Katie via the live cam and all of my girls are so excited to see Katie deliver her baby. My girls are 2-7-8- and 9 and are naturally curious as to how a baby gets here. I put off even answering that question until I came across Katie’s web cam. Now I am answering questions while we wait for the happy event. Even the 2 year old goes to my computer throughout the day to see Katie.

  3. Kate

    Maybe name it Fidget or Zoe

  4. james wright

    I was watching the birth of the new giraffe and the zoo should name her or he…Kuishi. is a swahili word for live…since she or he was born on live tv.

  5. Tricia

    Congratulations Katie and all the zoo staff! My entire family including our dog Kasey watched the birth live in Exton, PA. Our dog stood right up to the TV & watched! He is brown & spotted just like the calf- so how about nameing the calf Kasey?

  6. Jackie

    Woo hoo Katie! You go girl!! And kudos to the gentleman reporting the birth, good job!

  7. Norna

    Congratulations on you Baby Giraffe. Watching it on Live cast on Animal Planet.

  8. C. J. Stearns

    Wow! I just witnessed a giraffe birth! This is fantastic?

  9. Terri Koon

    I have been watching the live birth of the new giraffe and the care Mama Katie has been giving. What a beautiful thing to witness…so, thank you!! If the calf is a male, I think the name “Toby” would be cute because it’s part of its Mom and Dad’s names. 🙂 Thanks again for letting us viewers witness something so special as this!! ♡♡

  10. Jessica

    Thanks so much for sharing the birth of your new giraffe!

  11. nancy

    calf is drinking now 🙂

  12. Mary Derby

    Mom Katie treated her baby so gingerly . . . new calf’s name suggestion . . . male or female: “Ginger” or “Jinger” (with a “J” to match sister’s name) . . . it is also a great snappy spice that matches the giraffe color and attitude. Thanks for streaming the birth on TV . . . it was captivating . . . Mom and baby did so well and are so healthy . . . off to a great start! The heard seemed not only curious but also protective. So Cool . . . Congrats to all!

  13. Lynda Christian

    My grandson loves giraffe’s

  14. Jan Hale-Stevens

    Great coverage. Very intelligent narriative.
    Katie is a great Mom.

  15. Nora Becerra

    My mother was in the hospital and saw the birth of ur new giraffe. it was the cooles things I have ever seen

  16. Caryn

    Thank you for sharing this. It was absolutely amazing to see. We were watching other programming when it switched to the live feed. I couldn’t turn it off…we were rooting the baby on as it tried to stand….just awesome. Thanks so much!

  17. Sandy P

    I just found these pics tonite…

    Thank you. There’s nothing like the sweet face of a newborn to renew one’s hope.

    If the baby is a girl… Would you consider “ZuZu’s Petals” in honor of her place of birth, and time of year?

  18. Kaye Schultz

    I turned the TV on last night intending to watch a local rerun of The Big Bang Theory but it happen to be tuned to Animal Planet. What a thrill to see Katie’s baby being born.
    I have been a Giraffee most of my life and am so happy to see there are more of us.
    I’ll be following her story.

  19. Kora Anthony

    My name is Kora and I’m 10 years old and I live in Parma, Ohio. I would like to know if Katie’s first baby, Jamie, is a boy or a girl? Thank you!

  20. Sandra Goddard

    My husband and I were pleasantly surprised while watching ‘The Treehouse Man’, when out of the blue came Katie’s birthing of her new baby! Oh how wonderful to have been able to see such a beautiful event. It was twice as amazing because we live in Raymond, NH! By the time the calf had finally stood up, we were on the edge of seats!
    Thank you so much, Animal Planet and the awesome people at the Dallas Zoo.
    I will keep my husband and myself posted on facebook to keep up with their progress. Kudos to all of you!

  21. Ellen

    Do we know if it is a girl or a boy yet? And thank you, for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this. I hope you have more planned for the future! And if I EVER get to Dallas, you will be my first stop!

  22. irma a smith

    Thanks for bringing us this special feature,we have thoroughly enjoyed watching everyday .keep up the good work.

  23. Aileen Kane

    I really have enjoyed the love feed Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet have put up. It was very well done!
    I wanted to suggest a name for Katie’s calf. ‘Juma’, it means ‘Friday’ in Swahili. This name is gender neutral. The baby was born on a Friday, so I hope this name would be considered.
    Your giraffe team are awesome! I wish every zoo had such a great barn! You all are awesome!

  24. Melody Ayers

    I absolutely loved being a part of the birth process of Katie ‘s baby, was so beautiful an wonderful! Precious ,as all animals are! Thank u so much!
    Melody Ayers

  25. Beverly Regan

    The mom’s name is Katie, that’s not an African name. How about the baby’s name reflect her native Texan status? Or Dallasite status? Mary Kay. Bonnie.

  26. Linda Kaye Stokes

    I have enjoyed this so much. Thank you for sharing …the baby is so sweet, and her mommy gorgeous. I can’t wait to hear her name…Linda Stokes.

  27. I can’t wait to see her!

  28. Norma Doris

    Please tell us about Katie and baby when they went outside the first time.When will the new baby giraffe meet the rest of the herd ?

  29. Hi

    Will you show the giraffe birth again on the animal planet website? I missed it on Saturday but would love to see it. Thank you

  30. nancy coppock

    Thank you for the last 2 weeks of learning. I applaud how u made everything so special for Katie. I have watched births at other zoo’s and wow u guys are awesome. Wish only that the feed can remain if only for early day and evening to continue to watch as the herd welcomes her in.

  31. Thanks for the excellent post

  32. Awesome blog! I like it a lot! Thanks and keep up the great work!

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