It's a girl for The Living Desert community, which welcomed the birth of a giraffe calf on Monday.
The gender of the calf, born to first-time parents Shellie and Kelley, was announced Tuesday following her first well-baby exam.
“The calf is healthy and bonding well with mom. She weighed in at 143 pounds and stands 5’10” at her well-baby exam this morning,” noted Dr. Andrea Goodnight, head veterinarian at The Living Desert. “Shellie is doing great as a first-time mom.”
The calf, which has yet to be named, was born on the zoo's giraffe savanna habitat.
“This sweet giraffe calf has captured the hearts of the community,” said RoxAnna Breitigan, director of Animal Care.
“Many of our guests had a front-row seat along the guest pathway and hearing their collective excitement as the calf was born and began to stand was a true delight,” Breigigan said.
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The calf’s mother, Shellie Muujiza, was born at The Living Desert on Aug. 27, 2017. She was named by longtime zoo supporter and philanthropist, Harold Matzner.
Six-year-old father, Kelley, was born on May 15, 2016, and came to The Living Desert in 2018 from Wildlife Safari in Oregon.
The birth of the calf is a successful result of the Species Survival Plan recommendation, which ensures the genetic sustainability and diversity of the species in human care. Giraffe gestation is about 15 months.
The calf will now nurse for nine to 12 months and begin eating foliage at about 4 months old, zoo officials said in a press release.
The giraffe is expected to double in size in the first year of life. Giraffes have their own individual spot-like markings and no two giraffes have the same pattern, similar to humans’ unique fingerprints.
Currently listed by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as vulnerable, giraffe populations have declined up to 40% over the past 30 years. There are fewer than 98,000 giraffe in the wild.
Native to southern and eastern Africa, major threats to giraffe population are habitat loss and fragmentation, civil unrest, and ecological changes.
The calf is currently bonding in the behind-the-scenes barn with her mother. She is expected to be introduced back onto the giraffe savanna next week, zoo officials said.
The Living Desert is now home to a herd of 10 giraffe.
Visitors can participate in the giraffe feedings from 9 a.m. to 3 pm, daily. The cost is $8 per person or $6 for members, in addition to the entrance fee.
For ticket pricing and advance purchase, visit LivingDesert.org or call (760) 346-5694.
Previous reporting by Desert Sun staff writer Ani Gasparyan is included in this report.
Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: It's a girl for giraffe parents at The Living Desert in Palm Desert