Official: Baby giraffe doing well

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis Hillcrest zookeeper David Sanders, left, feeds the baby giraffe Tuesday, one of her five daily feedings, with assistance from Mark Yannotti.

Tonjia Rolan

Hillcrest Park Zoo’s 3-week-old baby giraffe has grown about 2 inches and is doing fine, according to assistant zoo director Mark Yannotti.

Yannotti said Tuesday zoo staff are working around the clock to keep up with the young giraffe’s demanding feeding schedule.

The unnamed baby was born Jan. 25 and is the zoo’s first exotic animal born in captivity. Zoo staff are bottle feeding the female giraffe with calf milk replacer and supplements five times daily. Due to cold weather, the baby is still being kept in the infirmary under heat lamps and allowed to exercise in an adjacent, outdoor pen only when temperatures rise above 60 degrees, Yannotti said.

Yannotti said the zoo is using feeding protocols from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colo., and nutritional supplements from the Los Angeles Zoo. Yannotti, who just returned from a five-day giraffe symposium in San Francisco, said, “We’re doing all the right things.”

A plan is in place to reunite the baby giraffe with its mother, Jael, and introduce her to the public when the weather is warmer, Yannotti said. The baby was removed to protective custody shortly after birth when Jael kicked the infant.

Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said he has received hundreds of entries from contestants seeking to name the new giraffe.

The winner of the contest, which ends Feb. 29, will receive a one-year family pass to the zoo and a commemorative plaque.