The new giraffe calf that made his/her debut in front of millions of adoring fans on Animal Planet is doing well this morning, enthralling viewers worldwide by testing out new legs, running through mom Katie’s legs and nursing frequently.
The calf is active, nursing, running and playing, and left the maternity stall for a few minutes while zookeepers cleaned up and put out fresh grain and branches for Katie. The calf also has nursed often, and Katie is remaining very calm and patient with the little one. Dallas Zoo keepers are explaining the process on social media, sharing information such as that giraffe nursings are very short, with an average of just 66 seconds.
Saturday night, Animal Planet is airing a one-hour special about the unprecedented simulcast event and the months of preparation that lead to the successful birth. The special will premiere at 8 p.m. CDT, with an encore airing to follow at 10 p.m. CDT.
The calf’s birth caught the attention of animal-lovers worldwide after the Dallas Zoo and Animal Planet launched the joint project, GIRAFFE BIRTH LIVE CAM to show the birth live on the Animal Planet L!VE streaming video site. The coverage of Katie’s delivery required six months of planning and nearly two months of camera and wiring installations. The social streams of the zoo (@DallasZoo) and Animal Planet (@AnimalPlanet) have been inundated with fans using the hashtags #GiraffeBirthLive and #TeamKatie.
Online viewers have so far watched over 1.5 million live video streams since the cameras launched and many more tuned in after Animal Planet aired the birth live on-air, narrated by the Dallas Zoo’s Harrison Edell, the senior director of living collections.
Katie went into labor just before 5 p.m. yesterday and delivered the healthy calf less than an hour later. Edell calmly took viewers through the drama of the live birth, describing the events, checking in with the zoo’s veterinary team and teaching about the threats the magnificent animals face in the wild. Mirroring viewers’ excitement, he captured the staff’s elation during milestones such as when the calf opened its eyes; tried several times to stand; began to walk; and began to nurse. One of the most popular moments during the live broadcast was when the other members of the zoo’s giraffe herd all poked their heads over the wall of the maternity stall to check in on the birth.
Sunday morning between 9:30-10 a.m., the webcast cameras will be on standby for approximately half an hour while the Dallas Zoo veterinary team conducts its first well-baby checkup. The calf’s gender will be known after that checkup. A name will be chosen after that time from African-themed recommendations from Katie’s keepers.
“We love having this type of platform to share this incredible event,” said Gregg Hudson, Dallas Zoo president and chief executive officer. “To be able to share this with so many people around the world is very special. We couldn’t be prouder of our staff and, of course, of Katie!”
“Wherever amazing things are happening in the animal world – that’s where Animal Planet wants to be. Without a doubt the epicenter for this over the last several days has been Dallas, and we can’t thank our hosts at the Dallas Zoo enough,” said Marjorie Kaplan, president of Animal Planet, TLC and Velocity. “We are so thrilled to have played a part in the beautiful shared moment of the birth of Katie’s calf. The overwhelming interest in this amazing event goes to show the transcendent appeal of natural beauty in the modern world.”
The calf’s father is Tebogo, one of the most popular giraffes at the Dallas Zoo. Katie has one previous calf, Jamie, who was born in 2011. Jamie remains with the 13-member Dallas Zoo herd, which roams the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat. The Dallas Zoo is the only zoo in the United States to allow giraffes and elephants to mingle with each other, alongside zebra, impala, guineafowl and other African species.
A reticulated giraffe, Katie is one of approximately 4,700 who remain, down from an estimated 31,000 in 1998, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Through the Species Survival Plan, zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – including the Dallas Zoo – have built programs dedicated to appropriate breeding for genetic diversity.