Baby Giraffe Born at the Blank Park Zoo

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Baby Giraffe Sabra with her mother Samburu

Baby Giraffe Born at the Blank Park Zoo

Oct 8, 2010

Photo and interview opportunities available, call Ryan Bickel, 515-988-9485
Videos of the BIRTH and pictures of the baby giraffe are available at 

Des Moines- Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo today announced the birth of a baby female giraffe. The giraffe, born on September 25, was 5 foot, 9 inches tall and weighed 147 pounds at birth.

The giraffe is named Sabra (pronounced SAH-bra), which in Swahili means patience. Kaye Condon, zoo board member and supporter, named the giraffe.

“We are thrilled to have such a ‘big baby’ born at the Blank Park Zoo,” said Mark Vukovich, Blank Park Zoo CEO.

Stunning video of the birth was captured by Zoo staff which shows the birth, the calf standing up and nursing all within a few minutes of birth.

“It is important for the survival of the calf to stand quickly in order to nurse,” said Jeff Dier, animal curator. Dier described the whole process as going very well.

Due to the timing of the birth, Sabra will not be on exhibit this season.

“It’s a two to three month process of letting the calf grow and mature, introducing the calf to the other giraffes and learning the exhibit,” said Dier.

One way the public can see the baby giraffe is with a behind the scenes tour. Tours cost $100 and will start on November 1 and must be reserved in advance by calling 515-974-2588.

The Zoo will also update the public on the progress of the calf with pictures and video throughout the fall and winter on its Facebook page located at

More about Giraffe


Giraffe are the tallest mammal, males can reach up to 18 feet and weigh up to 2300 lbs. The reticulated giraffe is distinguished from other species by its chestnut-colored square patches defined by a network of fine white lines.


Giraffes are found in herds of up to 40 animals in the wild. It usually sleeps standing up and is active mainly in the morning and evening. Because it are so tall, is has very elastic blood vessels and valves in its neck to offset the sudden build up of blood pressure when it swings its head. It must also bend its knees and spread its legs to reach the ground for a drink. The pattern on its body is unique, like a human fingerprint.


Breeding occurs throughout the year and the average gestation period is 455 days. Giraffes give birth standing up, and so the calf falls a couple of feet onto the ground. Calves will be about 8 feet tall by the end of its first year, and reach reproductive maturity at 2 ½ for males and 4 years for females.


Although giraffes are common in the wild, their numbers are declining due to human encroachment. Giraffe tails, used as good-luck charms are highly prized amongst some African tribes.

Interesting Facts:

  • The gait or style of walking the giraffe uses is called a pace, where both legs on one side move forward at the same time
  • Although relatively quiet, the giraffe is not mute. It grunts and bellows when in distress.
  • Its 20 inch tongue is prehensile, and purple to prevent sunburn.

The Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is open every day in October, 10 am – 4pm. Admission is $10.95 for adults, $5.95 for children under 12, and $8.95 for seniors and active military. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.


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