Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Giraffe calf takes first steps onto savanna

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications


At almost three months old, it’s time for giraffe calf Misawa to stretch his long legs. Keepers have begun to give the giraffe calf, his mom Olivia and aunt Tufani access to the savanna for short introduction sessions on warmer days.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Last week Misawa took his very first steps onto the savanna exhibit. On day one, all the animals were cleared from the savanna except the easy-to-get-along-with gazelle and ducks. It was a foggy morning when Misawa emerged through the mists to find a world full of new sights, sounds and tastes surrounding him.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

He stuck close to mom’s side at first, but curiosity took over and he began to check out what the rest of the savanna had in store for him.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Day one didn’t last much longer than an hour, but he has been spending more and more time outside as the introductions continue. For now, these introductions don’t follow a set schedule. We track the weather and offer brief sessions when the days have high temperatures of 50°F or are especially sunny and dry.

Now that Misawa has had a few positive first days on the savanna, we’re adding new experiences to get him acquainted with all his neighbors.

Yesterday morning, the sun came out and keepers opened the gate to let Misawa cross over from the barn to the savanna, which he did with enthusiasm. Of course, he didn’t know he’d be meeting a new cast of characters!



When he emerged onto the savanna this time, he saw patas monkeys in the distance, and encountered his horned neighbors, the oryx, for the first time. Misawa played it cool around the oryx—he was curious, but rather than approach them directly, he’d steal surreptitious glances at them from behind where they couldn’t see him. Not that the oryx were all that interested in him—getting food and napping in the sun seemed to occupy their minds.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Soon he’ll meet the zebra, and last he’ll encounter the ostrich. For now, we’re helping Misawa grow comfortable outside by letting him explore at his own pace without too many distractions or elements of surprise.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Tufani and Olivia are enjoying their time out on the savanna as well. They keep an eye on Misawa but aren’t overprotective. He may wander off and explore in another direction than them. They’ll do an occasional check, glancing in his direction to make sure he’s OK, and continue munching their way through the savanna.

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Though Misawa is never far out of their sight, he has another safety net—zookeepers have baby proofed the exhibit! How do you baby proof a savanna for a spindly calf? Lay out some branches along steeper slopes to act like baby bumpers, and close up any gaps into which a curious giraffe calf might want to wedge himself!

Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

He towers over 7 feet tall, but Misawa can’t quite reach the tree tops yet. Much of his time on the savanna is spent looking around and browsing the ground. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Misawa in action on the savanna on your next visit during a warm, dry day. As the season turns, his time out there will become less regular, thanks to the whims of the weather. But you can always look for Misawa and family in the Giraffe Barn, or check in on them on the Giraffe Baby Cam.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this article - it is so exciting to see the Baby exploring - I really appreciate all the time you take and update all of us on his adventure and what an amazing time to watch.
    Peggy Fuentes

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  2. Amazing photos Dennis Dow


    Peggy Fuentes

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Looks like I was lucky enough to catch him on his first day out! I took adorable, if foggy pictures of him discovering a dead leaf.
    http://criada.livejournal.com/540838.html

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