The Sacramento Zoo has announced that Shani, a Masai giraffe, has lost her calf due to labor complications.
The mother giraffe was observed in labor on Sunday morning. Veterinary staff monitored the progression of the labor and noticed Shani was having difficulty delivering due to the calf’s neck being wrapped around her long forelegs.
The zoo’s animal care staff and veterinarians, working in conjunction with the UC Davis experts, assisted Shani in delivering the stillborn calf. Without their help, Shani would not have been able to deliver her calf and her health would have been in jeopardy, according to a zoo press release.
“We are pleased to say that Shani appears to be recovering well and the birth does not seem to have created any complications for her moving forward,” said Adrian Fowler, acting director of the Sacramento Zoo.
Zoo staff said that it is not uncommon for first-time giraffe mothers to have stillborn calves or lose them at an early age: 23 percent of calves do not live past the first 30 days of life.
The father is Chifu, the zoo’s only male giraffe. The last time there was a giraffe birth at the Sacramento Zoo was in the 1980s.
Shani and Chifu were brought to the zoo with the hope that they would become the nucleus of a new herd to support the genetic diversity of the North American Masai giraffe population.
The Masai giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies, found in the wild of southern Kenya and Tanzania. The zoo also has three smaller, female reticulated giraffes.
The zoo completed renovations on the giraffe exhibit in 2010. The renovated enclosure includes a heated barn that is fully equipped for the birthing of giraffe calves.