A tall tale: Giraffe BFFs
Everyone here at the Zoo and Safari Park gets excited when baby animals are born. It’s always interesting (and fun!) to watch mothers care for their young and watch the little ones grow up. But sometimes, a mother animal doesn’t show interest in raising her baby, or there are health problems. That’s when keepers and vets jump in to help, like with two male giraffe calves named Obi and Yodha.
Both Obi and Yodha had health problems when they were born. To help them survive, they were taken to a heated barn where keepers could bottle feed them. In the warm, peaceful barn, veterinarians were able to figure out what was ailing the boys and give them treatment.
A giraffe calf is about six feet tall at birth, so to bottle feed these big babies, keepers stood on ladders! To make the calf feel safe and calm, keepers rubbed an animal print blanket on the mother in the field. Then they used this blanket during the calf’s bottle feedings. When the calf smells his mother’s scent, he is more likely to drink from the bottle.
Although we always hope mothers will care for their own young, it worked out well that these two giraffes needed help at the same time. Giraffes like being with other giraffes, and Yodha and Obi always had each other to nuzzle and romp with. Their playing helped them grow strong and healthy.
Soon, they were too big for the barn, so keepers moved them to an outdoor yard in the field. On the other side of a wall was the entire giraffe herd! The adult giraffes would come by to stick their heads over and sniff the youngsters. This let Obi and Yodha get to know the herd safely.
After about six months, the gate was opened and Obi and Yodha walked out of the yard to join the giraffe herd—and the other animals that lived with them. They met antelope and ostriches, and saw big rhinos. They had a great time running around, sniffing everything, and settling into their big, exciting new home.