After about 45 minutes of labor, third-time mother Betty Lou gave birth to her male calf, Parker, at 9:38 a.m., in the zoo’s Giraffe Barn. The baby weighed in at 171 pounds and stands 6 feet 8 inches tall, zoo officials said.
The baby was able to stand less than an hour after being born, and was nursing 30 minutes after standing up.
Parker’s name was chosen by the Hutton Parker Foundation, which provides organizational sustainability to community-based nonprofit organizations throughout Santa Barbara County. Parker is the sixth Masai calf to be born at the Santa Barbara Zoo since 2012.
The herd is part of the population of 120 Masais that live in 28 North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Giraffe calves are born about 125 to 150 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at birth. Parker is expected to grow three feet during his first year of life, said Dean Noble, the zoo’s marketing director.
There are an estimated 37,000 Masai giraffes in Tanzania and Kenya, but a more thorough census is required, according to Noble. The mammals are at risk because of environmental degradation, habitat loss and poaching.
Giraffes are the tallest land mammals, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, weighing 2,700 pounds and growing up to 17 feet tall.
Parker is not ready to make a public debut, Noble said. Zoo officials are encouraging the public to welcome the new giraffe by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor with a donation of $50 or more. New giraffe Foster Feeders receive a baby photo of the calf along with a certificate, giraffe fact sheet and recognition on the zoo’s Foster Feeder board.
Brooke Holland is a staff writer for Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara-based news website. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.