Baby giraffe makes his debut at South Carolina's Greenville Zoo

All About Animals

POSTED: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 4:04am

The newest resident of South Carolina's Greenville Zoo is a baby boy giraffe named Kiko.

The zoo held news conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday to announce the baby's sex, height, weight and name.

Kiko was born at 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing more than 118 pounds.

Zoo officials said the name is derived from Swahili for Autumn's child.

Autumn, the Greenville Zoo's 6-year-old Masai giraffe, delivered Kiko, her first calf, just before midnight Monday.

Zoo officials said nearly 200,000 viewers in several countries watched the livestream of the birth.

Kiko was introduced to the public at about noon Wednesday, as he an Autumn were moved out into the paddock and Walter was put in a stall.

The mom and baby will be allowed to have time to themselves without Walter to be sure he doesn't interfere with their bonding or overwhelm Kiko with his curiosity.

Giraffe births can sometimes take hours, but once she got started late Monday night, Autumn delivered Kiko quickly.

Officials said all Autumn's natural instincts took over, and she has been an effective and attentive mother.

The calf was very still for several minutes after birth, but in less than half an hour, it was struggling to get to its feet.

In less than an hour, the calf was standing and taking its first steps.

People from as far away as Australia and Japan watched the livestream in hopes of seeing Autumn's calf enter the world.

Many fans said they lost sleep so they wouldn't miss the birth.

Giraffes most typically give birth in the morning, so Autumn caught even some experts off-guard with her near midnight birth.

Autumn and her mate are on a breeding loan.

As part of the loan, Autumn came to the Greenville Zoo from the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston in 2007 to be paired with the zoo's male giraffe, Walter, 7, from the San Diego Zoo.

Giraffe births are unusual in that they give birth while standing, and the baby is born hooves-first.

A newborn calf, which can weigh between 120-150 pounds and stand 6-feet tall at birth.

Giraffes are one of the few animals born with horns on their heads.

Zoo officials said as Autumn prepared to deliver her calf, she was separated from Walter.

The goal was to get the pair accustomed to being apart because once their calf is born they will be separated for several weeks -- although Walter looked on with great interest as his off-spring entered the world.


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