By Emily Le Coz
TUPELO – The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo welcomed its newest member Sunday with the birth of a “little” giraffe.
Park officials don’t yet know the baby’s gender because they want to let it bond with its mother for a few days before approaching it. But after the birth of two female giraffes in recent years, officials said they’re hoping for a male this time.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said gift shop employee Angela Coats. “We’ve been waiting on this baby to get here since June – that’s when we were expecting it, the end of June. Obviously, I think they had the dates wrong.”
The 5-foot-tall baby was born around 6:30 p.m. Sunday to mom Patches and dad Tall Boy.
Zookeeper Jesse Swinford said he witnessed the delivery: “At 4:33 p.m. I went on a 4-wheeler to check on (Patches), and she had the legs out. We didn’t crowd her. Around 6:31 p.m., the baby hit the ground. I was actually really excited to see it. As soon as it hit the ground, it started shaking its head and got on its feet in about 30 minutes.”
By Monday morning, it was walking around the park with its mother. The baby will nurse for 6-8 months and then be fed a diet of alfalfa hay and grass pellets, Swinford said.
Like its older sisters, Kynu and Tower, the new giraffe will be named by a park-sponsored contest and then sold to another zoo after it has been weaned through the park’s breeding program.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.