Autumn, the Greenville Zoo’s female Masai giraffe, is pregnant and expected to deliver a calf in March. An experienced mother, Autumn has successfully raised five calves.
The public can watch the delivery live on the Zoo’s Giraffe Cam.
Normal giraffe gestation is between 14 to 16 months. Autumn has averaged 455 days.
“Babies, babies, babies. I think it's hard for most people to not recognize the cuteness behind a baby face, whether it be a baby cat or a puppy or, any other animal, including giraffes,” says Greenville Zoo General Curator James Traverse.
In preparation for delivery, keepers will add a large amount of playground mulch to two giraffe stalls, to provide a cushion for when the baby drops, as well as provide traction when the calf stands up shortly after birth.
“There is a big difference between giraffe babies and human babies. For the first couple of years of their lives, humans are helpless and need to be looked after very closely by their parents. It takes them a long time before they get to the point where they can be self-sufficient. Whereas a baby giraffe, when it’s born, it hits the ground, it stands up within an hour or two and it's ready to go. It can move around. It can follow the parents,” Traverse says.
The zoo will separate Autumn from her partner Miles so that he doesn't interfere in the birthing process. Zoo staff will carefully monitor Autumn’s condition in the coming weeks. Animal care and veterinary teams will be present for the birth.
“The behaviors we will be looking for to indicate she is in labor include pacing, increased tension, and just generally fast movements. Labor generally takes several hours from start to finish.” says keeper Christine Dear.
Autumn and Miles are part of the Species Survival Program to help ensure the long-term viability of threatened and endangered species. Masai giraffes are facing a population decline in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching. Miles and Autumn’s other calves have been placed at participating zoos across the country and will be paired with appropriate mates. Previous calves are Kiko (2012), Tatu (2016), Kiden (2018) Kellan (2019) and Providence (2021).
Keep up with the progressing pregnancy on the Greenville Zoo live giraffe cam: greenvillezoofoundation.org/Camera