FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) – The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a female reticulated giraffe calf, born Tuesday, November 21, to first-time mom, Faye. The new calf has been named Thabisa (ta-BEE-sa) which means “to bring joy” in Swahili.
Amber Eagleson, Area Curator for the African Journey and Indonesian Rain Forest, said “Keepers arrived at the giraffe barn on November 21 and discovered Faye in labor at 7:40 am. Staff monitored labor progression carefully, and at 11:22 am the calf was born. The calf stood for the first time around noon and was seen nursing by 12:45 pm.”
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo animal care veterinary team performed a neonatal exam 24 hours after birth. This exam included confirmation that antibodies had been passed during nursing from the dam to the calf in the colostrum.
“This is essential for the calf’s immune system development,” said staff veterinarian, Dr. Kami Fox.
72 hours after birth, keepers noticed the calf was mildly lethargic and had unusual breathing. Animal care veterinary staff intervened for a second exam, performed additional diagnostics and initiated treatments. Thabisa has responded very well to those treatments and improves every day. She has maintained an adequate nursing response and has been able to remain with mom Faye during this time.
“Just this morning I saw her running and playing like any youngster should, which definitely makes my heart sing,” said Dr. Fox.
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is now home to a herd of nine reticulated giraffes: seven females and two males.
“I am thrilled to have two calves in the barn, and will be so excited to see them running and playing together on exhibit next season,” said Eagleson. “One baby alone is incredibly entertaining to watch and I cannot wait to see what sort of antics two calves together will cause.”
Thabisa becomes the zoo’s newest ambassador representing wild giraffe in Africa. Giraffe populations continue to plummet due to poaching, habitat destruction, and civil unrest. Fortunately, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) has been working to research giraffe and implement ways to save them. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo contributes annually to GCF. To learn more about giraffe conservation and how you can help, visit kidszoo.org.