TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After a rough entrance into the world, Caldwell Zoo’s newest star is reday to make her public debut.
She is a baby reticulated giraffe, born June 7.
The reticulated giraffe is an endangered species whose population in the wild has declined by 50% just in the last 30 years.
To help preserve the species, Caldwell Zoo has embarked on a program to breed the species and is one of many zoos across the nation working together in a network to preserve the genetic diversity needed for the species to survive.
- Want to help name the little one? Go to Caldwell Zoo’s Facebook page to find out how!
So the baby giraffe’s birth was a cause for celebration. And, at first, all seemed well. She was born health and was up on her feet (hooves?) just a few hours after her birth. Mom and baby appeared to be doing well.
But not for long. A physical revealed the littlest giraffe was low on the proteins and antibodies she needed to live. She was lethargic, wouldn’t nurse, and generally not thriving.
The first order of business was a plasma transfusion, with plasma from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, another zoo working to preserve the species. That seemed to work – at first. But the improvement was only temporary, and the little one again began to decline.
But the zoo staff refused to quit on her. Calling upon the resources and knowledge of other zoos across the country, they began trying different combinations of milk formulas, bottle types, and nipples, all hoping to entice the little one to eat.
And, finally, she did. Scotty Stainbeck, the zoo’s curator of mammals, put an orange towel over his head and put the bottle under the towel to more closely simulate the actual nursing process – giraffe calves duck under their mothers to nurse, and this little one had to duck under the towel to reach the bottle.
It worked. She began taking the bottle and began growing stronger. To the joy of the Caldwell Zoo staff, the little one began to thrive.
And now she’s ready to meet her adoring public.
The zoo is open, though with some restrictions and modifications due to COVID-19. Visitors have to make reservations in advance. To read about the rules for visiting, go to the zoo’s website.
And then go fall in love with the zoo’s newest little star.