The Buzz

Feeding the new baby giraffe? It's already a tall order

Keeper Emily Boese stood on a boulder Thursday to bottle-feed Riverbanks Zoo's cute new baby.

The bottle held nearly 2 liters of milk, and the baby chugged it down in a couple of minutes.

Even when they're young, giraffes aren't dainty.

The new female was 5 feet 6 and weighed 119 pounds at birth Aug. 15. A month later, she's nearly 6 feet tall and 177 pounds.

"It kills me when the babies are taller than me," said Sue Pfaff, assistant mammal curator. "They just tower over me."

The unnamed female joins half-brother Lewis, who was born in February, and four adults in the Riverbanks exhibit. First-time mom Krissy didn't nurse her baby, so keepers had to hand-rear her, Pfaff said.

The new baby is the 17th giraffe born at Riverbanks in 35 years, but only the second since 2000. Charlie, the lone adult male at the zoo, is the father of both Lewis and the new baby, whose naming rights will be auctioned off at the ZOOfari fundraiser Oct. 3.

The baby first was allowed in the outdoor exhibit for short periods 10 days ago. She has adapted quickly, often sticking close to her brother while the adults head to other parts of the yard, Pfaff said.

"It's like when families get together for the holidays. The adults go to one room, and the kids go to another," Pfaff said.

The baby already is hanging out in the exhibit most of the day, but visitors won't be able to feed her like the adult giraffes. She's not tall enough to reach the public feeding platform.

But it won't be too long. Lewis already has grown to 8 feet 7 and recently started munching on leaves offered by little hands at the feeding platform.