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A new year and a new baby – giraffe parents Gia and Jerry have a newborn, weighing in at an estimated 100 kilograms.
THE year started on a happy note for the Johannesburg Zoo, where the birth of a calf on 11 January expanded the giraffe family to five.


The baby giraffe enjoys with its motherThe baby giraffe enjoys a walk with its motherIt joins two males and two females. The females, Gia and Buhle, were brought to the zoo in 2008 and the males, Jerry and Bangkok, are father and son. The calf, which is yet to be named, was born to mother Gia and father Jerry.

"The males have been separated to give the baby and mother time to bond," says Alice Masombuka, who is responsible for taking care of the giraffes. "The mother is very protective of her calf and is also grooming the baby."

This is typical behaviour for the first week, with the mother and calf spending most of their time alone. The zoo will be monitoring the pair closely, though, to ensure that both are healthy and safe.

The weight and sex of the calf is yet to be determined, but Masombuka says: "We will establish these during neonatal checks either on day three or five. It will be day three if it doesn't disturb the mother too much, but day five if she's still very protective. At the moment, the calf's estimated weight is 100 kilograms and we think it is a male, but we can't be sure until the neonatals are done."

The baby giraffe will continue on a milk diet for four months, until it takes to browsing. It will be weaned at 12 months, whereafter it will be independent of its mother.

It was greeted as a special occasion at the zoo since the last giraffe born there was Bangkok in 2006. This year seems to be a lucky one, though, as the other female giraffe, Buhle, is expected to give birth in December. A giraffe's gestation period is between 14 and 15 months.

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