Omaha zoo welcomes baby giraffe

Animal care staff report some postpartum concerns with mother Zola
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has a new addition to its giraffe quarters.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 10:25 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed another zoo baby over the weekend.

Zoo officials announced Wednesday that Zola, an 8-year-old giraffe, had given birth to her first calf — a female — at 12:40 a.m. Sunday.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a baby giraffe over the weekend.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed a baby giraffe over the weekend.(Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium)

Less than an hour later, at 1:30 a.m., the baby was standing. However, veterinary teams are still providing “around-the-clock care” for the calf.

“Mother Zola did not show the expected level of maternal care toward her calf despite a normal delivery,” according to the release from Henry Doorly. “The calf’s mother, Zola, is doing well with the Giraffe herd, but will continue under observation for any post-partum concerns.”

In the meantime, zoo officials say the giraffe’s father, 14-year-old Jawara, has played a vital role in sustaining the calf’s immune system as the veterinary care team works to intervene.

“Our team spends months preparing for animal births and for as many different outcomes as imaginable,” said Dr. Taylor Yaw, the zoo’s director of animal health. “In this case, as we monitored Mom and calf after the birth, we were able to make the decision to intervene. We provided nutrition and medical care to the calf, which included a plasma transfusion from father Jawara’s previously banked plasma. Our team is working to transition the calf to a bottle.”

It’s not the first time that Jawara has helped a giraffe calf in this way. His plasma was used to treat Kay, a giraffe calf at the Lincoln’s Children’s Zoo last June.

“The Animal Care team has worked with Jawara for years to train him for voluntary blood draws,” said Dr. Taylor Yaw, noting that Henry Doorly is part of a national plasma bank to help giraffes across the country. “We are hopeful that those efforts — and that plasma — will help Jarawa’s newborn calf.”

The situation will mean that the Syd and Betty Cate Giraffe Herd Room at the zoo will closed to the public from time to time in order to care for the calf and allow for some quiet time.

Zola’s calf has arrived and—it’s a girl! Born at 12:40 a.m. on Sunday, March 19, weighed 108 pounds and was measured at...

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Henry Doorly posted Thursday that the calf’s status remained “guarded” as staff continued to struggle with her feedings.

“We have also consulted with other facilities in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums community for advice and guidance. Zoos and aquariums are always working together to save the species in their care, even in moments like this,” Thursday’s update states.

For Zola’s calf, our around-the-clock care continues. In the last 24 hours, her condition remains guarded. 🦒 We are...

Posted by Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium on Thursday, March 23, 2023