Autumn, the zoo’s 11-year-old Masai giraffe, is pregnant. Veterinary staff confirmed the pregnancy through hormone analysis and determined that the birth could occur as early as February.
According to Bullock, while it is possible that the calf will be born during the zoo’s annual two-week closure for maintenance, which happened with Tatu, the public will still be able to monitor Autumn’s pregnancy and view the birth on the zoo’s popular webcam at greenvillezoofoundation.org.
This is Autumn’s fourth pregnancy, but the first with Miles, the eight-year-old male Masai giraffe who was born at the Houston Zoo and transferred to the Greenville Zoo in September 2016. Like a majority of the animals at the Greenville Zoo, Autumn and Miles are part of a cooperative breeding program known as a Species Survival Program (SSP). The purpose of the program is to monitor captive populations and make breeding recommendations based on genetic variability and spaces available at other accredited institutions to ensure a long-term viable population without removing animals from the wild. There are currently 118 Masai giraffes in zoos around the world, with 65 females, 52 males and one of undetermined gender.
Autumn was originally transferred to the Greenville Zoo from Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo in 2007 to be paired with Walter, the zoo’s former male Masai giraffe, as part of a breeding loan. Their first calf, Kiko, was born on October 22, 2012 and was transferred to the Toronto Zoo in 2015. Their second calf, Roho, was stillborn on August 20, 2014. Their third calf, Tatu, was born on February 2, 2016 and was recently transferred to the Lehigh Valley Zoo in Schnecksville, PA.
“Baby news is always exciting and we’re looking forward to welcoming a new member of the zoo family,” said Bullock. “To add to the excitement, because Miles is such a tall giraffe, we’re especially curious and anxious to see what his first calf will look like.”
The zoo staff will continue to closely monitor Autumn’s condition and will keep fans updated on her progress through the zoo’s Facebook page.