PALM DESERT (CNS) - A 150-pound bundle of baby giraffe joy was welcomed today by the Living Desert zoo after its mother gave birth in the early morning hours on the first day of spring.
``We are thrilled to share the news of this new addition. Mother and calf are doing very well and are currently bonding behind-the-scenes,'' Living Desert President and CEO Allen Monroe said. ``Guests will have the opportunity to see mother and calf in the near future and I know they will be delighted when they see the pair.''
The 6-foot-1-inch female giraffe is the eighth calf for its 18-year- old mother, Dadisi, who has lived at the zoo since 2002.
The birth of the calf follows the heartbreaking December death of Hebasu an 18-year-old male that sired the newborn, officials said.
``The Living Desert fondly remembers Hesabu with the birth of this calf,'' said Living Desert Director of Animal Care RoxAnna Breitigan. ``Hesabu's legacy will continue to live on through his offspring, helping to build connections with our guests and fostering appreciation for the natural world.''
The 18-year-old Hebasu -- euthanized in December -- was one of the oldest male giraffes in human care, according to zoo officials.
Dadisi and her unnamed calf bonded and are doing well, officials said. The newborn's exam showed all her vital signs are normal.
Giraffe gestation is usually about five months and the calf is expected to nurse for up to 12 months, zoo officials said. The baby should double its size in the first year of life.
The zoo is home to nine giraffes, five males and four females.
Giraffes are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable with population declines up to 40 percent over the past 30 years, according to zoo officials.
Fewer than 100,000 of the native southern and eastern African species live in the wild.
Zoo officials expect baby and mother to debut later next week.