COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) — Officials at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the giraffe calf that has required medical care since Wednesday morning.

The calf, known for now as #200, was found splayed in her stall Wednesday morning.

“Splaying means that her legs had gone out from underneath her in an unnatural way,” officials explained. “This can be anywhere from not very serious and treatable to life-threatening.”

“We don’t know why it happened but we’re doing everything we can to help her,” officials said on Facebook. “We have all our top people on this.”

X-rays done Wednesday didn’t show signs of bone or tissue damage and, after being lifted to her feet, she was able to stand on her own.

But the calf remained weak and splayed two more times while trying to nurse, so the vet staff decided to separate her from her mother.

“She will be hand-reared by our CMZoo staff,” officials said at about 5:30 p.m.

Thursday update

The president and CEO of the zoo, Bob Chastain, along with several veterinarians, spent the entire night with the calf and provided an update Thursday morning.

“The calf did well under staff care overnight. Blood work is showing ongoing improvement, but she is still not doing well with bottle feeding,” officials wrote on Facebook.

Officials said she had to be tube fed overnight because she wasn’t taking the bottle.

“She was comfortable and I would say peaceful overnight… we would help her lay down and stand up, mostly protecting her legs so they can continue to heal,” Chastain said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”

The calf can be heard vocalizing for her mom in the following video.

Because the calf was vocalizing, the staff decided to reunite her with Muziki briefly to see if she would nurse.

The calf tried, but almost immediately got tangled up in mom’s legs and fell with her legs splayed out underneath her again.

giraffe splayed 2 Giraffe Calf Health Scare: We’re Cautiously Optimistic

(credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

As soon as Muziki stepped away, the staff rushed in to try to help the calf stand, but Muziki returned and the staff was forced to back away and the calf fell again.

The staff separated mom and baby again and tried to come up with ways to get Mizuki to stand still long enough to let the calf get the nutrition she needs.

“We’re dealing with a dilemma because we don’t want her splaying anymore and as you’ve just seen, she’s splayed twice since we’ve been trying to get her to nurse from mom,” one official said.

Officials said they might actually use a “surrogate mom” — another giraffe at the zoo, Msitu, is still nursing her calf, Baby Rae, which was born April 26.

Chastain said the plan for the rest of Thursday was to watch the calf closely and help her lay down and stand up, as needed, and hope she regains her strength.

A name for the calf

Zoo officials made another announcement — they’ve given the calf a name.

The zoo was holding a naming contest for the calf, but on Thursday officials said they had decided to go ahead and name her.

“Late last night the team was working on her and decided it was time for her to have a name,” Chastain said.

The top two vote-getters were Penny (in honor of zoo founder Spencer Penrose) and Mia (short for Mia Mbili, which means 200 in Swahili.)

The team came up with a way to let the calf make the choice.

They played two songs that have the names in them — “Penny Lane” by the Beatles and “Mama Mia” by ABBA.

Officials said when they played “Penny Lane,” the calf looked toward the sound and her ears went forward and she seemed calm. When they played “Mama Mia” her ears went back and she “did not seem like she liked the music at all.”

 

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