WE’RE ON BABY WATCH!!
Greenville, SC – I am hooked on EarthCam.com, particularly one cam that is pointing at an expectant mother at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina. With the click of a mouse, I could have a bird’s eye view just about anywhere in the world; but, as of yesterday, I can’t pull myself away from Autumn, one of the zoo’s many Masai giraffes, and about to be first-time mother. I’ve learned that I’m not the only one watching either.
According to Greenville Zoo’s General Curator Keith Gilchrist, besides the United States, “The countries that people are logging in from are Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Poland, France, Italy and Spain.”
Gilchrist also stated that giraffes, Autumn and Walter, the baby giraffe’s daddy, are changed out every morning to let Autumn out for some fresh air and then back in between 1 and 2:00 pm. I’ve started to tell them apart by size alone but another way according to Gilchrist to be certain it is Autumn is by the natural flower design on her left flank. She also has longer black tail hair, where Walter’s is much shorter.
“It’s kind of up in the air,” says Gilchrist. “We’ve been seeing a lot of signs and changes in her anatomy … certainly signs that she is getting closer and closer.”
According to experts, a giraffe’s labor is comparatively short to a human delivering for the first time. Once the onset has begun, it is usually between one to four hours until the baby is born.
“So waking up today, it is impossible to say if she will deliver today; but, every day she gets a little bit closer,” he laughs.
Since witnessing Autumn’s sudden periodic rapid pacing today, I began anxiously watching to see immediate progress but Gilchrist explained that, too.
“Yes, that is a sign of labor but there is a lot of things going on you can’t see. There may be a keeper in there going back and forth or a vehicle going past…”
So, I guess we’ll just have to keep on baby watch until the blessed event actually happens which will be soon. The zoo has said she is due any day now!
Here is a public service announcement posted on the zoo’s website with additional information:
GREENVILLE ZOO ANXIOUSLY AWAITING FIRST GIRAFFE BIRTH
As the Greenville Zoo prepares to welcome its first baby giraffe, visitors to the zoo should not be surprised to see only one giraffe on exhibit. The staff has noted movement in Autumn’s stomach and she is separating herself from Walter more often, even when they are both on exhibit. Zoo staff has been slowly getting Autumn and Walter accustomed to being apart, because once their calf is born, they will be separated for several weeks. The separation will allow time for mother and calf to bond without interruption and time for the calf to gain the strength to endure the curiosity of his father. Staff will also want to ensure that Autumn is alone so that she can focus on giving birth, without interference from Walter.
“The hope is that Autumn is on exhibit for the birth, which will allow her the space to pace and also a suitable surface for giving birth,” said Jeff Bullock, Zoo Administrator. “Being born on exhibit will give the newborn space to find its legs and hopefully be up and walking soon after being born.” If, however, the calf is born during the night, there are two barn stalls set aside for Autumn that are bedded with playground mulch to ensure a soft surface for the baby’s arrival.
The average gestation for a giraffe is 15 months. The female is standing when she delivers the calf and the baby will be around six-feet-tall and weigh around 150 pounds at birth.
About the Greenville Zoo
Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), Greenville Zoo is rated one of the best tourist attractions in South Carolina, attracting over 270,000 people annually. Operated by the City of Greenville, the 14-acre facility features wildlife from around the world including giraffes, monkeys, giant tortoises and elephants. Visitors can also enjoy one of the zoo’s most popular exhibits, the Reptile Building, which is home to a variety of lizards, frogs, turtles and snakes.
The Greenville Zoo is open seven days a week, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Zoo entry ticket sales will close at 4:15 p.m. Admission to the Greenville Zoo is $7.75 for adults and $4.50 for children (ages 3 to 15).