Giraffe at Seattle zoo likely to give birth within a week

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2017 7:09 PM

By Tom James

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A giraffe at a Seattle zoo is expected to give birth to a calf within a week -- and there is even a gift registry.

Tufani, an eight-year-old female giraffe at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, began showing behavioral changes early in the week, indicating approaching labor, lead zookeeper Katie Ahl said in a statement.

Tufani could potentially give birth in as soon as a few days, though Ahl cautioned that birth windows for giraffes can be prolonged.

In April, a giraffe named April gave birth to a male calf at an upstate New York animal park after a gestation of at least 16 months, an event watched by more than a million people by webcam. The typical gestation period for giraffes is 14 to 15 months.

Giraffe fans wanting to show their excitement over Tufani's imminent new arrival can visit a "baby shower" gift registry set up by the zoo on Amazon, where gift options range from a large plastic chew toy to pruning shears for cutting its food -- and of course, large blocks of molasses, a favorite giraffe snack.

Along with the registry, zoo officials have set up a web page and a social media hashtag for fans to follow the animal's progress, although the birth itself won't be livestreamed, zoo spokeswoman Alissa Wolken said by telephone.

Tuvani was paired with a 4-year-old male named Dave as part of a species survival plan prepared by wildlife conservationists, officials said in a statement.

Classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species in 2016, giraffes are the world's tallest mammals. The species is usually found in dry savanna zones in sub-Saharan Africa.

(Reporting by Tom James; Editing by Patrick Enright and Sandra Maler)