Friday, 27 May 2022

Audubon Nature Institute starts off new year with giraffe birth at Species Survival Center



Typically, the first birth of any year is a big deal. For the conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global, the initial newborn of 2018 was really big.

A 6-foot-tall male reticulated giraffe calf (a typical height for a newborn) weighed in at an impressive 150 pounds when he arrived on the morning of Jan. 9 at the West Bank campus of the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in Lower Coast Algiers, in New Orleans.

The average labor for a giraffe is one to two hours. Tumaini, the mother, started giving birth at 6:30 a.m., but the calf didn’t make his grand entrance until four hours later.

“It was longer than expected, but everything was progressing normally, just slower – so we just watched,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of the Species Survival Center. “Most giraffe do not need any assistance; we would have intervened only if absolutely necessary.’’

Hatwood and her staff had known for months that a calf was on the way, but a giraffe’s 14- to 16-month gestation period can make it tough to pinpoint a likely delivery date. Because many animals give birth in the middle of the night, Hatwood added that it was a rare treat for animal staff to witness the breathtaking event.

“Giraffe give birth standing up, and the calf falls about six feet to the ground,’’ she said. “The fall not only breaks the umbilicus, it also gives the calf a jolt to start breathing and moving – kind of like when a doctor spanks a human baby after being born.’’

Animal care staff describe Tumaini as “very cautious and shy,’’ prompting staff to remain very quiet during her labor.

Erica Sherrow, a member of the animal care team who was present for the birth, described the moment as an exhilarating experience. “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,’’ Sherrow said. “But he figured it out himself, and was standing in no time.’’

The giraffe newborn is the second bundle of joy for the Species Survival Center in the past month, following the Dec. 11, 2017, arrival of a baby Eastern bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.

The as-yet-unnamed bongo was the first animal born as part of the groundbreaking collaboration officially known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife, or ASW. The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.

The 13-year-old Tumaini (which means “hope’’ in Swahili) was already pregnant when she arrived in late spring from a facility in Texas that housed the center’s giraffe collection while the breeding project was under construction.

The giraffe species is considered Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population declined about 40 percent in the last three decades, and the numbers are expected to continue to dwindle. Currently, there are approximately 8,500 reticulated giraffes living in the wild.

Tumaini is part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The plan reviews animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities, and the needs of potential mates at other facilities.

The species occupied much of the African continent several decades ago, but giraffe currently dwell in open forests, dry savannas, rain forests and plains of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

With the new addition, the Species Survival Center now is home to eight giraffes: three males and five females. The giraffes in ASW’s care reside in a 46-acre, forested area; they spend most of their day foraging and looking for their favorite leaves to eat.

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future.

Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park.

Upcoming Calendar

28May
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
28May
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rodman Preserve public hours
28May
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning cemetery tour
28May
05.28.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
29May
05.29.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
30May
05.30.2022
Memorial Day
30May
05.30.2022 9:00 am - 10:00 am
Middletown Cemetery honors veterans

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.