- Associated Press - Monday, January 22, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The year’s first baby for a Louisiana-California conservation partnership is 6 feet (2 meters) tall and 150 pounds (68 kilograms).

As is normal for a baby giraffe, it fell 6 feet to the ground. The male reticulated giraffe landed in a leggy tangle, briefly worrying its human attendants at the Species Survival Center, a partnership between Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans and San Diego Zoo Global.

“When the calf was born, his legs were awkwardly tangled over his head and we thought we might have to help get his lanky legs situated,” Erica Sherrow, a member of the animal care team present at the Jan. 9 birth, said in a news release Monday. “But he figured it out himself and was standing in no time.”

Curator Michelle Hatwood said giraffe give birth standing, and the fall both breaks the umbilical cord and “gives the calf a jolt to start breathing and moving - kind of like when a doctor spanks a human baby after being born.”

Audubon and San Diego Zoo Global have developed 88 acres (35 hectares) across the river from the Audubon Zoo as a breeding facility where giraffes and antelope can behave naturally. Its aims are to provide stock for zoos, which no longer collect hoofed stock from the wild, and to inspire other zoos to form similar collaborations.

The calf is the facility’s eighth giraffe.

His mother, Tumaini, was pregnant when she arrived at the 45-acre (18-hectare) giraffe enclosure. Another gave birth shortly after arrival last spring. Two more are pregnant, Audubon spokesman Frank Donze said in an email.

Giraffes have 14- to 16-month gestations, making due dates hard to predict.

The first baby conceived at the center is an Eastern bongo, a critically endangered species of African antelope born Dec. 11. Other antelope probably are pregnant, curators have said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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