SALINA – Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) is celebrating the birth of the zoo’s second giraffe calf born in the Zoo. Since October 15 the RHZ staff has been on high alert as they awaited the birth, which was expected to happen sometime before December 18. (The gestation time for a giraffe is normally 13-15 months and Billie, RHZ’s female giraffe, was in her 15 month at time of the birth.)
On December 17 at 7:23 p.m. Billie gave birth to a healthy male calf. Once the calf was born, Billie went to work cleaning him and by 9:14 p.m. the calf was on his feet and taking his first steps. Standing close to six feet tall, the calf is nursing and doing well.
As with any first-time mother, there is a heightened concern, not only about the pregnancy and birth, but also with her mothering skills and the attention she will need to give to her calf. Fortunately for all concerned, Billie’s pregnancy and delivery have gone well.
“We are so excited for this little one’s birth,” shared Kathy Tolbert, RHZ’s Interim Director. “Not only does he carry on the legacy of BT, the male giraffe that we lost in October, but he has also brought a bright spot to the Zoo in the midst of what has been a challenging year for so many. We look forward to introducing him to Zoo guests in the New Year.”
This was Btuanya’s (BT) second calf sired, with the first being JoJo in 2016. (BT passed away in October 2020.) As the Zoo’s ten-year-old female giraffe, this is Billie’s first offspring.
Billie was born February 22, 2010, at Dickerson Park Zoo, Missouri. Her parents were both from Dickerson Park Zoo, mother – Gidget, who is now 28 years old, and father – Stretch, who passed away at 23 years old. Billie arrived at Rolling Hills Zoo on October 17, 2011.
But it wasn’t until 2014 that Billie was recommended for breeding with BT as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). At that time Billie would not allow BT to breed with her so Zuri, RHZ’s other female giraffe, moved ahead of the rotation and ended up breeding with BT first, giving birth to JoJo on November 27, 2016. After JoJo’s departure from RHZ, the keepers were able to successfully breed Billie with BT in September 2019.
At this time the giraffe barn is closed for public viewing. The Zoo asks for the public’s patience and understanding as they allow time for the mother and calf to bond. It is also critical during this time that the mother does not get spooked and accidentally kick her calf. For now, only the keepers are entering the building as necessary and the pair is being monitored via cameras throughout the day and night.