NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk is welcoming the birth of a baby giraffe.
The six-foot tall giraffe was born Thursday at 4:20 p.m. after a two-hour labor and six-foot headfirst drop, a news release from the Virginia Zoo said.
"The idea of a six-foot drop sounds scary to people, but it's normal for a giraffe," explained executive director Greg Bockheim. "It helps stimulate breathing to get the baby on its own - and since baby giraffes can be 6 feet tall and 150 pounds, the fall doesn't seem so far to them."
The giraffe was born to 10-year-old Billy and 9-year-old Imara. This was the second birth for Imara. Her last offspring, Willow, now lives at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida.
The gestation period for giraffes is 15 months, so this birth has been long anticipated by the zoo's staff. Many zoo visitors got to watch the entire labor and birth.
At the zoo, the baby won't need protection from predators, but Imara and zookeepers will keep a vigilant watch over the newborn.
The new baby has been given a preliminary check up by the zoo's vet and appears to be very healthy.
Zoo officials said newborn giraffes can stand and walk within one hour of birth, and they can start eating leaves at 4 months old.
The Virginia Zoo will announce a baby naming poll at a later date.
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