A female baby giraffe born Monday morning at BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo died Thursday morning, zoo officials said.
The giraffe calf looked fairly healthy Wednesday, nursing as she stood with her mother in the grass, zoo Assistant Director and General Curator Sam Winslow said Thursday afternoon.
When zookeepers checked on the giraffe Thursday morning, Winslow said, the calf looked weak and died a short time later.
“It’s not uncommon for a newborn, any mammal, to die within the first six months,” Winslow said. “Still, we have people here who had been working with her that gave her a lot of love and they are pretty upset,” Winslow said.
The cause of death is unknown and a necropsy will be performed soon, according to a zoo news release.
Winslow said the full necropsy results should back in two to three weeks.
The baby giraffe, who had not been named, was the 19th born at the Baton Rouge Zoo, according to the release.
The last baby giraffe to die at the zoo was about a year ago and that calf was the offspring of the same giraffe that gave birth to the baby that died Thursday.
The mother of both babies, Jewel, was born at the St. Paul, Minn., Como Zoo in January 2006. The father, Rowan, was born in August 2006 at Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, according to the release.
“Fingers are crossed,” Winslow said. “In about a year, we will see if the mom can give birth to a baby again.” Giraffes breed throughout the year and the gestation period is about 14 to 15 months.
Following the calf’s birth Monday, she was briefly on exhibit, but zookeepers moved her into a barn because she was not standing to feed as much as the zoo’s veterinary staff would have liked.
“Death is something that we deal with at the zoo,” zoo Director Phil Frost said in a news release Thursday.
“This experience will enable us to learn more about animal husbandry, and just like humans, animals are the most vulnerable in the first year of their lives,” Frost said.
Winslow said the baby giraffe was born at night while many giraffe births occur during the day. Winslow said the time of birth, however, will not have anything to do with the giraffe’s death.
“We just don’t know right now. It may turn out that there was a genetic issue involved,” Winslow said.
Giraffes, the tallest animals in the world, can weigh between 1,540 and 4,250 pounds. The neck on a giraffe can be 8 feet and a male can grow to 19 feet while a female can grow to 17 feet.