(Omaha, NE) -- Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium introduces the newest member of the zoo family, a baby boy reticulated giraffe.
Zoo President and CEO Dennis Pate says the baby was born on Saturday, July 31st to 10 year old Betty Francis. The calf is Betty Francis' first baby, but Pate says she's been taking great care of him since his arrival over the weekend. "Very attentive. She stands still while the calf nurses." Pate says the calf, even at just three days old, is already very independent. "It moves around on its own, it doesn't necessarily stay attached to mom, but it walks around a little bit. Has a mind of its own and it's fun to be down here just to see it."
Pate says of the four giraffe species in the world, there are only about 120,000 giraffe left in the wild. He says that's about 1/4 of the amount of elephants in the wild. "We always talk about elephants, but giraffe have sort of slipped by science for a long time." He says the reticulated giraffe, which Betty Francis and her calf are, is an especially endangered species, with only about 16,000 in the wild. "Their population has decreased by half in the last 30 years, so a lot of cause for concern. Every new birth gives us a little bit more hope here. They do fairly well in zoos, they've done well here and this baby makes ten for us now here at the zoo."
The baby hasn't been named yet. Pate says he will get his name through an auction next month. "We've got our every other year fundraiser coming up, Zoofari. So we'll auction off the name for the calf at that time, and that is on September 10th."
Zoo visitors can currently get a glimpse of the calf in the giraffe house. Pate says once the baby gets familiar with the indoor enclosure, then he'll get introduced to more of his habitat. "Then being introduced one by one to each of the herd members. And then after we do all of that, and everybody is comfortable with how this is going, then the next step is to take him outside. So we're a little ways away from that."