Giraffe Calf Expected at Reid Park Zoo, Animal Care Team on “Baby Watch”

The baby boom continues at Reid Park Zoo as the animal care team is on “baby watch” once again. Penelope, the Zoo’s female giraffe affectionately known as “Penny,” is pregnant with her first calf and is expected to deliver between now and early into the new year.

“We’re excited for the giraffe tower to gain a new member and to see Penelope take on a new role as a first time mom,” said Nancy Kluge, Reid Park Zoo’s President & CEO.

Penelope came to Reid Park Zoo in 2020 as a part of the Giraffe Species Survival Program with a breeding recommendation for Jasiri, the Zoo’s male giraffe and father of the calf. The gestation period for giraffes is 15 months. Since this is Penelope’s first offspring and giraffe births are delicate, the Zoo’s hoofstock and veterinary teams have been monitoring Penelope closely for a number of months and providing extra care to ensure she was achieving the right weight gain and was displaying all the signs of a healthy pregnancy.

“Extensive monitoring and preparation have occurred over the last several months to ensure the health and successful delivery for both Penny and her calf,” said Dr. Alexis Roth, Reid Park Zoo’s chief veterinarian. “We are pleased with Penny’s health and progress.” The animal care team will keep a close eye on Penelope, and her calf, after the birth.

The giraffes at Reid Park Zoo are the reticulated subspecies, predominantly found in Kenya and distinguished by their large, chestnut colored patches outlined by thin white lines.

Giraffes as a species are currently facing a silent extinction. For many years people thought the giraffe population numbers in the wild were healthy because giraffes are easy to identify in the wild due to their size and unique characteristics. However, when scientists looked at current population data they realized that giraffes have actually seen about a 40% decline in their population in just the last 30 years.

Reid Park Zoo supports Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Giraffe SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) Program, providing fieldwork in Uganda. By supporting Reid Park Zoo, guests are helping support these programs.

Reid Park Zoo recently welcomed a Grevy’s zebra foal, and is also expecting an African elephant calf in 2024.