Virginia Zoo Visitors Stunned as Giraffe Gives Birth Right in Front of Them

by Craig Garrett
Giraffe Family Standing In Zoo - stock photo

The Virginia Zoo gave visitors an experience of a lifetime when a giraffe unexpectedly gave birth in front of them. On September 9, Imara, an endangered Masai giraffe gave birth to her ninth calf. People were in awe of the circle of life beginning right before their very eyes. The news was announced in a Facebook post from the zoo where she resides.

The Masai giraffe, one of four different types of giraffes, is close to extinction according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Found in Tanzania and Kenya, these animals have been poached heavily which has resulted in a decrease in their population. They are now considered “endangered, CNN reports. Given that giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals, it was fitting that the newborn calf weighed 122 pounds and stood six feet tall.

“Zoo Visitors experienced the unexpected this morning,” the zoo wrote on Facebook. “Imara the giraffe gave birth to her ninth calf! Shortly after birth, the calf was able to stand and was seen nursing.” Zo authorities let the public know they were safeguarding the new calf. “Keepers are keeping a close eye on mom and calf and will be coordinating a neonatal exam with the Zoo’s veterinary team to assess the calf’s health and determine the sex. Stay tuned for more updates!”

The baby Giraffe’s name has a special meaning

Tisa, the calf, was given her name as a tribute to her mother’s number of births and birthday, according to a press release from the zoo. According to the zoo, Tisa is vibrant and happy. Shortly after she was born, visitors were able to witness her stand up and begin feeding. According to a recent news release, as of September 19th, she is already teaching herself how to run.

The Virginia Zoo now has five giraffes after Imara had a baby, Tisa. According to the zoo, they based the pairing off on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan because the species is endangered. The birth was significant as it helps contribute to repopulating their numbers. This is the ninth calf for Imara and the fifteenth for Billy. Keepers have named her Tisa, which means nine in Swahili not only to represent her unique birthday but also the number of births from Imara.

The birth of the calf was also remarkable, with Zoo visitors able to witness the event that morning in the giraffe barn. Although the precise due date is unknown, Zoo veterinarians had been preparing for the calf’s arrival since early June. 24 hours after delivery, Dr. Tara Reilly performed a neonatal examination with Keepers and Veterinary Technicians assisting. The calf appears to be healthy and full of energy. Mom and baby are getting along well, and they’re nursing effectively.