Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium announces the birth of a female Giraffe calf at 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, March 19, 2023. She successfully stood for the first time at 1:30 a.m., weighed 108 pounds and was measured at 5 feet, 7 inches tall. Her mother is Zola, an 8-year-old Giraffe, and father is Jawara, who is 14 years old.
The Veterinary and Animal Care teams are providing around-the-clock care for the calf, as mother Zola did not show the expected level of maternal care toward her calf despite a normal delivery. This is one of the scenarios that the Animal Care team prepares for when anticipating the birth of an animal, especially with a first-time dam like Zola. Staff were monitoring Zola 24 hours a day and were onsite hours before the delivery as she began exhibiting signs of labor.
“Our team spends months preparing for animal births and for as many different outcomes as imaginable,” said Dr. Taylor Yaw, Director of Animal Health for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “In this case, as we monitored Mom and calf after the birth, we were able to make the decision to intervene. We provided nutrition and medical care to the calf, which included a plasma transfusion from father Jawara’s previously banked plasma. Our team is working to transition the calf to a bottle.”
“The plasma is intended to boost the calf’s immune system,” continued Dr. Yaw. “The Animal Care team has worked with Jawara for years to train him for voluntary blood draws. We are hopeful that those efforts - and that plasma - will help Jarawa’s newborn calf.” Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is part of a national plasma bank to help Giraffes across the country. In June 2022, Jawara’s plasma was similarly used to successfully treat Kay, a Giraffe calf at the Lincoln’s Children’s Zoo.
“Our teams are excited about this birth, and cautiously optimistic that our treatments, supportive care and unwavering dedication will help this baby Giraffe survive,” said Dr. Luis R. Padilla, President and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “Our Giraffe calf is in the best hands, receiving continuous care and love from our talented veterinarians, technicians and caretakers.”
The calf’s mother, Zola, is doing well with the Giraffe herd, but will continue under observation for any post-partum concerns. At this time, the Syd and Betty Cate Giraffe Herd Room will be intermittently closed to the public to allow for the care and some quiet time for the calf. Updates regarding the Giraffe calf will be provided via media alerts and the Zoo’s social media pages as information becomes available.
This is the first calf born at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium since Arthur, who was born on July 3, 2021, and the fifth calf to be born in the current barn. Including the newborn female calf, there are eight female and two male Giraffes at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.