DENVER (CBS4) – We checked up on Denver Zoo’s baby giraffe Dobby, getting answers to questions you sent us on Facebook.
He had a bit of a rocky start, unable to stand and nurse from the start, so needed a little extra TLC from zoo staff.
Dobby is doing great now, though, at more than a week old, playing out in the yard among Denver Zoo’s four other giraffes – including his mother Kipele, his father Dikembe, and two other females – so we were able to stop by the Denver Zoo for a chat with one their keepers, Loren Berry, and get an update on his condition while answering your questions on Facebook:
More questions were asked and answered in the full live, above, but here are the highlights:
What species of giraffe is Dobby?
He is a reticulated giraffe, like the rest of the herd at the Denver Zoo. “If you look at their spot pattern, their spots are closer together and more blocked,” Berry said. “That’s pretty much the definition of reticulated.”
How much does a giraffe eat?
Males typically eat 80 to 90 pounds of food a day, including lettuce, carrots, apples. “We feed about 200 pounds a day through all of our feeders” to the whole herd. There are always leftovers, though, which the zoo wants, so they estimate the giraffes eat about 150 pounds of food a day.
How many bones does a giraffe have in their neck?
“Every mammal, except for a few species, has seven bones in their neck. So, we have seven bones, and the giraffe has seven bones.” Their bones just happen to be a touch longer, same as their necks.
Does Dobby have the same spots as Mom and Dad?
Like a human fingerprint, they’re all different, all unique to the individual. Some can be darker in color, different in shape, and so forth.
How’s Dobby doing health-wise?
He’s doing fantastic. He’s nursing from Mom great. He’s gaining weight. They just weighed him Wednesday morning, and he’s up to 87 pounds.
“He’s definitely getting stronger every day,” Berry said. “It’s more of a challenge for us to get him on the scale. But it’s fun. And Mom is great. Mom is there the whole time, so she’s watching everything that happens. He’s doing fantastic, and we’re really happy with his progress.”
Will Dobby stay at the Denver Zoo after he’s been weened?
“We don’t know that plan yet for Dobby. We can hold him for a while. It won’t be a problem with breeding, since he won’t be matured until he’s two or two-and-a-half-years-old. So, we have plenty of time to figure that out,” working with organizations to look at genetics and see if he should go anywhere based on best matches.
How big do you expect Dobby to get?
“Giraffe calves are usually 6-feet and 150 pounds, on average when they’re born,” Berry said. “Dobby was 5-feet and 73 pounds. But he’s growing and doing great, so we’re hoping he catches up and become as big as Dad. Dikembe is 16-and-a-half-feet-tall and weighs about 2,300 pounds.”
Giraffe males can get to 18 feet tall, with the largest known being 19 feet.
When she was pregnant, how did we not know Mom was expecting?
“Not every animal carries how you think. Even with people you don’t always know that somebody is pregnant. With our giraffe, our females were put on birth control.”
But, as Berry points out, birth control is only 99.9% effective, and Dobby is the point one.
“We did start suspecting things a few weeks ago as Kipele’s body started changing a little bit more, but, again, it’s very different; she didn’t put on a lot of weight, she didn’t get round, she wasn’t ravenous for food, so it was very difficult to tell.”
It wasn’t until her udders started to fill a few weeks ago when they knew she was pregnant with Dobby, her ninth calf.
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