2021 Brings Another Giraffe Baby

Norfolk, Va. – The Virginia Zoo announced on Christmas Day a baby giraffe would be coming in 2022, but its New Year’s calf came early! A Masai giraffe calf was born on December 28, 2021, before Zoo Keepers arrived. At birth, the baby weighed 159 pounds and stood 5’9” tall. This is the third calf for mom, Noelle, and fourteenth for dad, Billy.

A neonatal exam was performed 24 hours after the birth by the Zoo’s Veterinarian, General Curator, Zoo Keepers and Veterinary Technicians. The exam revealed the calf is a male. Mom and baby are bonding, and the calf is nursing well. He appears strong and is already learning to run! 

This birth brings the herd total to six, but not for long. Females Kylie and Tiana who were born in 2019 and 2021, respectively, will soon be leaving for their new home in Florida. That will leave new mom, eight-year-old Noelle and her calf, 20-year-old Billy and 19-year-old Imara. The breeding of Billy and Noelle is based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® for Masai giraffes. Masai giraffes are currently listed as endangered due to habitat loss and poaching, so the birth of this newest calf is especially important.  

Details regarding a naming contest are in the works and will be announced on the Zoo’s Facebook page.

The calf and Noelle can be seen in their night barn from the Africa – Okavango Delta boardwalk. While visitors are admiring the real animals, they can also see their inflatable counterparts in the ZooLumination exhibit, which is going on through January 9. ZooLumination features 29 giant inflatable animals that are displayed throughout Zoo grounds. The Zoo is open daily 10 am to 4 pm. Advance reservations are required, visit virginiazoo.org/tickets to get yours today!

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