CLEVELAND -- It's hard to refer to a newborn as a baby when it's almost 6 feet tall and weighs 123 pounds, but that's the size of the Masai giraffe calf born Sunday at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The female calf was born to first-time mom Jhasmin and father Travis. She is the 47th giraffe calf born at the zoo since 1955.
"The baby is doing well and Jhasmin is proving to be a very attentive and nurturing parent," said Andi Kornak, the zoo's director of Animal and Veterinary Programs. "They will continue to spend bonding time together before the little one is introduced to the rest of the herd and joins them on exhibit."
Jhasmin herself was born at the zoo in 2005. Travis was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2006 and came to Cleveland in 2008. The zoo's current giraffe herd also includes females Jada and Grace.
The baby is not yet named, and the zoo is making plans for a public "name the baby" campaign to be announced shortly.
Giraffes give birth standing up, so newborns get an abrupt introduction to the world by dropping up to 6 feet to the ground. They are about 6 feet tall when they are born and weigh between 100 and 150 pounds.
Giraffes are native to the savannas of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) are found in Kenya and Tanzania, near the Masai Mara National Reserve.
Giraffes are the tallest mammals, with males capable of reaching heights up to 18 feet tall. Giraffes can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. They have long, prehensile bluish-purple tongues, which they use to strip the leaves from tree branches in the wild. Giraffes typically live 15-20 years in the wild and a few years longer in captivity.
Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.