It Takes a Herd: Something New at the Zoo

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Photo By: Courtney Jimenez

A mother’s love is the first thing a child looks for when they open their eyes for the first time, and for the newborn giraffe at the Jacksonville Zoo, he didn’t need to look far. The unnamed calf was welcomed into the world by its mother, Luna, on Feb. 22.

The 6-foot-2-inch baby boy is tiny in comparison to the 9 and 10 feet tall giraffes that are diligently looking after it.

“Today is the first day he’s been let out, so all of the other giraffes are keeping a very close eye on him,” Nikki Ritz, volunteer at the Zoo, said. “All of the giraffes are protective of all of the calves born, whether they are their own children or not.”

Although all of the giraffes are protective of the calf, only its mother can provide the nutrients needed in the first few months of life.

“The calf will drink milk from its mother and slowly it will start grazing and the mother will wean him,” Ritz said. “We have one mother that will wean as soon as two months and just walk away from her calf when it comes up for milk. It’ll be Luna’s decision when she wants to start weaning.”

Around the time the calf will be weaned, he will also be given a name by auction.

“We auction off all of the names of the animals so it’ll be a complete surprise as to what the new calves name will be,” Ritz said.

As of right now, there are no giraffes that will be born within the next couple of months so the new calf will be the main attraction at the Giraffe Loop at the Jacksonville Zoo.

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