Rare giraffe born

When a rare, nearly 6-foot-tall giraffe was born Friday morning at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center, she had a crowd waiting for her.
Petal, a 6-year-old Rothschild giraffe — which are classified as endangered — gave birth to a healthy female calf with a group of other giraffes and conservation center staff watching.
“She’s a great mom,” said Marcella Leone, founder and director of the center. “She was very proud, trying to show off her newborn.”

Petal, now a second-time mother, has already bonded with her newborn, who looks like her, with a mix of dark patches broken up by bright cream channels.
Though center staff were on hand for the birth, Petal didn’t need any help, Leone said.
“Mom did it on her own,” she said.
Petal cleaned her calf with her 18-inch tongue, and within 30 minutes of the birth the calf was standing and nursing, Leone said.
“It’s really astonishing how a huge animal like that ” how delicately and in such a nurturing way she approaches caring for her calf,“ she said.
The young animal is also very curious, approaching humans early on in its first day of life, she said.
Following an average 15-month gestation period — Petal’s gestation period fell right into the average — mother giraffes give birth while standing.
When fully grown, the newborn, which will mingle with the herd of five giraffes — two of which are pregnant — could reach 18 feet in height, Leone said.
The calf is the first giraffe born at the off-exhibit conservation center and possibly the first in state history.
A contest to name her has been up on the center’s website (leozoo.org/giraffe-baby-contest/). The person who guesses the closest to the actual day and time of birth will be invited to visit the newborn with their immediate family.