A little over a week after the birth of a second baby giraffe at the Maryland Zoo this year, caretakers are still keeping a cautious eye on the leggy guy.
Just 20 minutes after being born, the baby giraffe left his mother, Kesi, to get up on his long, wobbly legs and walk. This was quite the feat, even for a giraffe.
Hooved species typically walk right after they’re born, says Erin Cantwell, the keeper leading care efforts for the newborn. But this giraffe surprised his human caretakers with just how quickly he walked. The new calf is taller than most grown human men, standing at six feet tall. He is mostly leg and always seems to have a perplexed expression as he explores the world around him, she says.
Though it took a while to name him, the baby was christened “Julius” on June 23rd both as a testament to his strength and as a nod to his father, Caesar. (The zoo also welcomed a female baby giraffe in February named Willow, who is Julius’ half-sister.)
Not long after Julius’ arrival, zoo staff observed his lack of interest in nursing and tested his antibody levels. They were low and keepers began attempts to accustom the baby giraffe to a bottle, which has yielded mixed results. Most giraffes are notoriously difficult to bottle feed, Cantwell says. However, over the past few days, he’s been gaining weight (a good sign) and appears to be getting stronger every day.
“We’re just kind of watching him right now,” Cantwell says. With his inability to nurse, and since he is Kesi’s first calf, the staff is optimistic yet hesitant to say the calf is healthy. “It’s very hard to tell with calves this early on,” Cantwell says.
The staff plans to first introduce him to the other giraffes once he is deemed healthy enough, and after that, will let him have human visitors. For now, like Julius himself, the zoo will continue to take baby steps.