The Santa Barbara Zoo’s Masai giraffe Betty Lou gave birth to a calf today, August 6th at 9:38am in the Zoo’s Giraffe Barn after 45 minutes of labor. The calf has been named “Parker” by donors, the Hutton Parker Foundation. The sex of the calf will be determined at a veterinary exam tomorrow morning, August 7th.
NOTE: The calf is not currently available for viewing. Viewing date will be announced via SB Zoo social media.
This is Betty Lou’s third pregnancy. Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of roughly 14.5 months and are typically 125 to 150 pounds and six feet tall at birth. Parker should grow approximately three feet during the calf’s first year of life.
The calf stood 50 minutes after being born and was nursing 30 minutes after standing up. The Santa Barbara Zoo animal care team remarked that Betty Lou is a very attentive mother.
The Zoo’s giraffe herd is part of the population of 120 Masai giraffes that live at 28 North American zoos accredited by the AZA. Michael, the calf’s sire, is considered the most genetically valuable male Masai giraffe in captivity because he has few relatives in zoos other than his offspring born here in Santa Barbara, which now numbers six. He arrived at the Santa Barbara Zoo in January 2012.
The SB Zoo’s herd now consists of Michael, females Audrey and Betty Lou, Audrey’s calves Chad (born March 26, 2016) and Buttercup (born November 13, 2014), and now Betty Lou’s calf Parker.
There are an estimated 37,000 Masai giraffes in Kenya and Tanzania, but a more thorough census is required. They are at risk due to poaching and habitat loss and environmental degradation. Giraffes are the tallest land mammal, and the Masai is the largest subspecies, growing up to 17 feet tall and weighing 2,700 pounds.
Iconic Species Fights for Survival
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there are nine recognized subspecies of giraffes with some subspecies numbering only a few thousand such as Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffe camelopardalis rothschildi), a few hundred to under 100. Overall giraffe populations have plummeted 40% in just 15 years in the plains and forests of Africa.
Stick Your Neck Out for Giraffes!
The public can support the SBZ herd and welcome this long-necked arrival by becoming a Foster Feeder sponsor of the giraffe calf. A donation of $50 helps with the cost of feeding the growing giraffe family. New giraffe Foster Feeders receive a baby photo of the calf along with a certificate, giraffe fact sheet, and recognition on the Zoo’s Foster Feeder board. For information, visit www.sbzoo.org.
About the Santa Barbara Zoo
Known as one of the world’s most beautiful zoos, the Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care, and participates in AZA endangered species programs for Asian elephant, California condor, Channel Island fox, and Western lowland gorilla, among others.
A private nonprofit corporation, the Santa Barbara Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements.
The Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; general admission is $17 for adults, $13 for seniors aged 65+, $10 for children 2-12, and children under 2 are free. Parking is $7. Visit www.sbzoo.org.