Giraffe born at Calgary Zoo fails to nurse, dies two days later

CALGARY — A newborn giraffe has died at the Calgary Zoo after officials say it failed to nurse.

The male calf was born Dec. 28 to a six-year-old Masai giraffe named Emara, but after it failed to nurse, staff intervened by tube feeding the animal.

Curator Coleen Baird said there were no issues with the birth, but the calf was struggling to stand and wasn’t making contact with the mother’s nipples.

“(The zoo) let it be and gave it some more time to figure out the nursing thing. Once it got some stimulation of food, we thought that could boost it,” Baird said, noting Emara kept trying to nurse and take care of the calf.

“We were hoping that they could connect as far as nursing. That never did happen.”

Two days after it was born, the calf died.

The zoo says initial necropsy tests indicate the giraffe may have had a congenital issue. Further tests are pending.

Emara has had two previous stillborns.

Baird said some issues with the calf’s kidney and bladder were noted, but that further information was needed.

“It is very sad. Our whole animal care team is just really upset, as well as the whole zoo,” she said. “Everyone can feel that sadness.”

The last successful giraffe that was born at the Calgary Zoo was Moshi, born in October 2015.

Overall the zoo has had 17 successful giraffe newborns.

There are three female giraffes and one male at the Calgary Zoo.

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