Captured by Animal Planet’s live cameras, mother giraffe Katie of the Dallas Zoo gives birth to her second calf. During a typical giraffe birth, the mother is standing the entire time and the hooves of the calf will be the first part of the body to come out. Next comes the head and neck, followed by the shoulders, which are the widest part of the calf and the most difficult part of labor. Averaging more than 5 feet tall at birth, a giraffe successfully giving birth is no small feat!
Once the entire body is out, the calf falls to the ground below the mother–a nearly 6 foot drop! In the wild, a calf needs to get up and follow its mother nearly immediately to be able to avoid danger. To facilitate this process, the mother giraffe usually licks the new calf to stimulate its movement and remove excess birth materials.
The calf will then slowly begin to gain its footing, slowly beginning to move around and eventually get to a standing position. Within an hour, the new calf will be able to walk and run around with its mother. Though they don’t have a formal breeding season, mother calves and their babies will usually form “nursery herds” with other mothers and calves for protection from danger and predators.
In the Dallas Zoo, however, Katie and her new baby are doing great by themselves in a maternal pen designed just for them. You can learn more about how the new giraffe is doing here!
To watch Katie’s live birth highlights (with commentary from the Dallas Zoo staff), check it out here, or watch the no-commentary version below. Congratulations, Katie!